AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine: ‘the solution to end the pandemic’


Brazil’s Acting Health Minister General Eduardo Pazuello has described the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine being made by UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca as “the solution to end the pandemic”.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree to provide 1.9 billion reais (US$356 million) in funds to buy and eventually produce the vaccine, known as AZD1222, which has triggered both antibody and T-cell immune responses. It is currently in a series of late Phase 3 trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

Pazuello said AstraZeneca’s vaccine could be available for Brazilians by December or January.

“January is the best bet,” he said, adding that Brazil would initially receive 100 million doses, which would allow for the vaccination of half the country’s population. Brazil would then produce the vaccine locally.

AstraZeneca wants to manufacture two billion doses of the vaccine worldwide by the end of 2021.

AstraZeneca said in a social media post on Thursday that it struck a licensing deal with pharmaceutical company BioKangtai, of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, to help provide its adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate to China. AstraZeneca and BioKangtai will also explore the possibility of producing the vaccine for other countries.

Under the agreement, AstraZeneca has allowed exclusive clinical development, production and commercialisation rights to the vaccine in China to BioKangtai, which will in return reserve enough capacity to make at least 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year and expand to 200 million doses per year by the end of 2021.

AstraZeneca has already made deals to provide the US 300 million doses, the European Union 300 million doses, the UK 100 million doses and up to 100 million doses in Brazil. Also, it has made a manufacturing and distribution agreement with R-Pharm in Russia and the Serum Institute of India to provide for low-income countries. Agreement also has been made with South Korea’s SK Bioscience and Daiichi Sankyo stated in late June that it was in talks with AstraZeneca to supply the shot in Japan.

Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization, believes the vaccine invented by Professor Sarah Gilbert of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, is the leading candidate. It might be known by the end of this month whether or not the vaccine is effective. A single successful trial showing efficacy would allow a regulator to approve the vaccine for emergency use — which would probably pave the way for use in high-risk groups. That may happen in October. AstraZeneca thinks that full approval, which would require results from multiple trials, may occur in early 2021. Vaccine development normally takes between 10 to 15 years.

AstraZeneca, Sarah Gilbert
Professor Sarah Gilbert of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.

AstraZeneca state making each dose of the vaccine costs about as much as a cup of coffee. Two billion doses have already been ordered. The company has agreed to supply over a billion doses to Europe, Britain, America, and gavi, a vaccine finance group. The Serum Institute of India is also producing an additional one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine, mainly for low- and middle-income countries, of which 400 million will be made before the end of 2020. In Britain, 30 million doses will be available by September.

Free testing for COVID-19 in Bangalore. Photo: Bangalorewest44 / Twitter

Mexico now has the third highest death toll in the world. Mexico is approaching 50,000 deaths, with Brazil just short of 95,000 deaths and the US likely to pass 160,000 people dying of COVID-19 within the next 24 hours.

Related posts