Coronavirus: AstraZeneca in vaccine talks with Japan, Russia, Brazil and China

Coronavirus: AstraZeneca in vaccine talks with Japan, Russia, Brazil and China

Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands signed an initial deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for over 300 million doses of a promising coronavirus vaccine now still in the experimental phase, Germany's health ministry confirmed Saturday.

AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical giant headquartered in Cambridge, England, reached an agreement with Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply vaccines now being tested by the University of Oxford to Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands "at no profit".

The German Health Ministry said the four countries had formed a vaccination alliance and that they are also in talks with other pharmaceutical companies regarding potential vaccines against COVID-19.

"With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly", AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said in a statement. Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects such as a temperature, influenza-like symptoms, headache or a sore arm.

Currently, AstraZeneca says it has a 'total manufacturing capacity currently stands at 2-billion vaccine doses'. The agreement struck Saturday aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to take part.

"We have a very self-sufficient supply chain for Europe" with manufacturers lined up in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Italy, among others, he said.

Authorities in Brazil have approved the vaccine co-developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc to carry out late stage trials there, while Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc.is set to go into phase III trials in the U.S. If the trial results convince regulators the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries would be expected to start by the end of 2020. Another round of testing with 10,000 volunteers began last month.

"We are proud to provide our CDMO services to advance AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate".

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Pfizer (PFE) are also working on the manufacturing of a vaccine. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The deal is the latest by AstraZeneca to promise to supply its vaccine to governments who have scrambled to agree advance purchases of promising coronavirus immunisation treatments.

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