EU secures potential COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc

British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc has signed a contract with various European governments for supplying its potential coronavirus vaccine, as it steps up efforts to help combat the coronavirus pandemic which started in Wuhan China.

The contract will see AstraZeneca supplying 400 million doses of the vaccine, said the company while adding that it was looking to ramp up manufacturing of the potential vaccine, which it said it would provide for no profit during the pandemic.

Deliveries of the same are scheduled to commence by the end of 2020.

The deal is the first contract signed by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states as soon as possible.

“This will ensure that hundreds of millions of people in Europe will have access to this vaccine, of course if it works and we will know that by the end of summer,” said AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, while adding that he has “good hope” that the vaccine will work, based on initial data.

The alliance “will work together with the European Commission and other countries in Europe to ensure everybody across Europe is supplied with the vaccine,” said Soriot. “We have a very self-sufficient supply chain for Europe” with manufacturers lined up in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Italy, among others.

The contract is for all EU member states.

The four nations that are party to the deal, will pay an undisclosed amount.

The scheme allows other countries to join it under the same conditions, said a source from the Italian health ministry.

Japan, Russia, Brazil and China have also expressed interest, said the source.

“The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the start of Phase III trials of the vaccine after studies showed sufficient efficacy and safety,” said Soriot.

Currently there are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.

“Many countries in the world have already secured vaccines, Europe has not yet. The rapid coordinated action of a group of member states will create added value for all EU citizens in this crisis,” said Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

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