AstraZeneca Plc received more than $1 billion in US funding to develop a Covid-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford and said it has supply agreements for 400 million doses.
The UK drugmaker received the money from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and has secured capacity to make one billion doses, according to a statement from the Cambridge, England-based company. A successful vaccine is seen as a key step toward getting global economies moving again after a lockdown-induced slump.
Drugmakers around the world are looking for manufacturing capacity for vaccines needed to quickly combat the pandemic. The Oxford vaccine is one of the world’s fastest-moving, and AstraZeneca has said it expects to have doses ready as soon as September.
BARDA has also provided funding for French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. A vaccine developed by the company will probably go to Americans first if the company can successfully deliver one, Chief Executive Officer Paul Hudson said in last week in an interview with Bloomberg News. Sanofi said later that it would make the shot available everywhere.
Supplying the UK with vaccine will be AstraZeneca’s first priority, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot has said. The company said it’s working “to ensure broad and equitable supply of the vaccine throughout the world at no profit during the pandemic.”
Astra has said it will make as many as 30 million doses available to the UK by September and has committed to delivering 100 million doses this year.
Dozens of other vaccine projects are under way around the world, from the US to China, drawing on major pharma giants, university labs and others.