AstraZeneca UK to produce vaccine after tie-up with Oxford University

AstraZeneca Plc agreed to make an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University researchers as the race for vaccine heats up. In India, the Serum Institute, the world’s largest maker of vaccines by volume, has already started producing millions of doses of the Oxford University shot and it remains to be seen whether market share will be entered at a later stage depending on the availability of the vaccine.

Astra has a capacity to produce 100 million doses by the end of the year, said the company, which is gearing up for a tough competition with a dozen other competitors across the world. UK-based AstraZeneca announced partnership with the University of Oxford on Thursday to help develop, produce and distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine as a solution to the deadly disease.

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma welcomed the tie-up as a vital step while a team of British scientists last week administered first vaccine doses to volunteers. “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,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said.

The vaccine “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19” is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. The AstraZeneca-Oxford partnership is looking to provide vaccine inside the UK by the end of the year. Cambridge-based AstraZeneca is also testing two other treatments for coronavirus that has so far infected over 3 million people and killed more than 215,000 worldwide.

The shares of the company rose 2% on London’s FTSE by 9:30 am Friday, outpacing rival GSK. Apart from AstraZeneca. GSK and Sanofi are the other major players working on their own vaccine. Other major drugmakers testing possible COVID-19 vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. Nearly, 100 vaccines are in the pipeline at various stages of initial trials around the world and scientists say it may take another year for the right vaccine to emerge successfully.

The Indian vaccine being developed by the Serum Institute is a recombinant viral vector vaccine using a weakened version of the common-cold virus spiked with proteins from the novel coronavirus to trigger a response from the body’s immune system.

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