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Coronavirus: AstraZeneca and University of Oxford team up on potential COVID-19 vaccine

Facade with logo at office of pharmaceutical company AstaZeneca, South San Francisco, California, April 11, 2020. Photo: by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

AstraZeneca (AZN) and the University of Oxford have teamed up to make and distribute a potential coronavirus vaccination, as scientists across the world race to develop drugs to combat the pandemic.

There are more than 70 coronavirus vaccines currently in the works and a finished product could take more than a year to emerge. The usual lead time for the development of a vaccination is five to seven years.

The new coronavirus has so far infected over 3 million people and killed more than 215,000 across the globe.

The vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford.

It entered phase I clinical trials last week and was tested on healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years across five trial centres in southern England.

Data from the phase I trial currently taking place could be available as early as next month, while advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year.

The Cambridge-based drug maker is responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.

London-listed AstraZeneca shares rose more than 2% in early trading on Thursday.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca said: “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.”

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: “Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come.”

AstraZeneca is among other companies in the drug industry working on a vaccination for COVID-19. US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and biotechnology company Gilead are also working on vaccinations and treatments.

Since the announcement, the AstraZeneca’s CEO told Sky News that it should know if the vaccine works “by June to July”: