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Coronavirus: AstraZeneca signs 18-month vaccine deal with Oxford Biomedica

·Finance and news reporter
·2-min read
A lab technician sorts blood samples for COVID-19 vaccination study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on August 13, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
AstraZeneca is completing late-stage trials of the vaccine candidate in the UK, US, Brazil, and South Africa. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Oxford Biomedica (OXB.L) said on Tuesday that it had signed an expanded agreement with AstraZeneca (AZN.L) to manufacture the drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine candidate for an initial period of 18 months.

Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will pay Oxford Biomedica £15m ($20m) upfront to reserve capacity for the large-scale production of the vaccine.

Oxford Biomedica said it expects additional revenue of more than £35m from the deal if the vaccine programme continues and it can satisfactorily scale up its manufacturing capacity of the candidate, known as AZD1222.

The company said that the agreement could be extended by a further 18 months into 2022 and 2023 by mutual agreement.

AstraZeneca is currently completing late-stage trials of the vaccine candidate in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa, and said on Monday that it had begun enrolling adults in a US-funded trial.

That trial, which is being conducted under the US government’s Operation Warp Speed programme, will involve 30,000 subjects.

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Oxford Biomedica, an Oxford University spin-out company that specialises in gene therapy, had previously signed a supply agreement with AstraZeneca in May.

“We have been working hard with AstraZeneca and other partners to establish GMP manufacturing of AZD1222 at scale, and we are therefore very pleased to extend our current partnership to include large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine candidate,” said John Dawson, chief executive of Oxford Biomedica.

The AZD1222 vaccine, one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates, is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, both of which are located at Oxford University.

There are currently over 25 potential vaccine candidates in clinical trials around the world, according to the World Health Organisation.

Several smaller biotech firms and research labs are partnering with large drugmakers to fund the processes and ensure that, should a candidate prove viable, billions of doses can be produced in short order.

BioNtech (BNTX) and Pfizer (PFE), Moderna (MRNA), Novavax (NVAX), Johnson&Johnson (JNJ), and Germany’s CureVac (CVAC) are some of the leaders in the vaccine-development race thus far.