Coronavirus: AstraZeneca gets $1 billion from BARDA for possible vaccine

The company is required to deliver 400 million doses, but they have capacity for one billion doses through 2020 into 2021.

The U.S. Health Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has given AstraZeneca more than $1 billion to develop, produce, and deliver a possible vaccine for the coronavirus starting in the fall, according to a news release.

The release says AstraZeneca has concluded the first agreement for at least 400 million doses and has secured capacity for one billion doses. The first deliveries will begin in September. The program includes a phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a pediatric trial.

“This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity,” CEO Pascal Soriot says in the release. “We need to defeat the virus together or it will continue to inflict huge personal suffering and leave long-lasting economic and social scars in every country around the world. We are so proud to be collaborating with Oxford University to turn their ground-breaking work into a medicine that can be produced on a global scale. We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine. We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”

The vaccine, now called AZD1222, was licensed to AstraZeneca by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute. A phase I/II trial of the vaccine began last month in an effort to assess its safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy in more than 1,000 healthy volunteers between 18 and 55 years old in southern England. If the data from the trial is positive, it is expected that late-stage trials will begin in a number of other countries, according to the release.

“AstraZeneca recognizes that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk,” the release says.