Cambridge Big Biotech business AstraZeneca is teaming up with Oxford University to fast-track manufacture and distribution worldwide of a ‘Holy Grail’ COVID-19 vaccine.
The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the university.
AstraZeneca will be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing as well as distribution of the vaccine.
Pascal Soriot, CEO at AstraZeneca, said: “As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent.
“This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.
“Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”
His colleague Mene Pangalos, executive VP, BioPharmaceuticals R & D, added: “The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have a longstanding relationship to advance basic research and we are hugely excited to be working with them on advancing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 around the world. We are looking forward to working with the University of Oxford and innovative companies such as Vaccitech, as part of our new partnership.”
UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma, described the collaboration as absolutely critical to the campaign to eradicate the virus.He said: “This collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca is a vital step that could help rapidly advance the manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine.
“It will also ensure that, should the vaccine being developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute work, it will be available as early as possible, helping to protect thousands of lives from this disease.”
The potential vaccine entered Phase I clinical trials last week to study safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centres in Southern England.
Data from the Phase I trial could be available as early as next month and advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year.
The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) was chosen to generate a strong immune response from a single dose and it is not replicating, so cannot cause an ongoing infection in a vaccinated individual.
Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be safe and well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects such as a temperature, flu-like symptoms, headache or sore arm.
AstraZeneca, now globally headquartered in the Cambridge UK technology cluster, has been in the front line of the fight against COVID-19 from the outset, using its planet-wide power and influence to forge partnerships with contemporaries, governments and academic institutions to advance potential solutions to the killer virus.
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