New vaccine ‘to provide up to a year’ of protection against coronavirus 

By Fabian Sutch-Daggett - World Healthcare Journal

European governments earlier this week signed a deal with the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to supply up to 400m doses of their new coronavirus vaccine in the EU at zero profit.

AstraZeneca has already signed deals with other governments, such as the US and the UK, as well as GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and IVA, the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, to deliver billions of doses across the world.

At present, current manufacturing capability for the new vaccine stands at two billion. The vaccine is currently being developed in collaboration with Oxford University, which began the first stages of human trials two months ago - one of the first research groups to do so.

Furthermore, the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soirot, yesterday revealed that the first stages of the human trial are due to be completed soon, and the third stage has already begun. He is “very confident” that the vaccine will be successful in the coming trials.

“We think that it will protect for about a year -- if all goes well, we will have the results of the clinical trials in August/September. We are manufacturing in parallel. We will be ready to deliver from October if all goes well,” Soirot said in an interview.

“This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval. With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. ” 

So far, The Netherlands, Italy, France, and Germany have agreed to pay more than £662m for 300m doses of the vaccine to be distributed within the EU. France aims to provide the vaccines to each nation owing to the size of their respective populations.

This move has come after the EU was warned that not enough was being done to secure an effective vaccine compared to other states.

“This prepares the ground for protection of more people around the world against the global threat to human health that is coronavirus, if the vaccine proves effective in the clinical trials,” says Professor Andrew Pollard, lead investigator on the Oxford study.

In addition, Imperial College London is also preparing to begin human trials for their vaccine this week, which utilises a different approach to providing immunity, however, experts have noted that it may be able to work in tandem with the Oxford vaccine in the future. So far, animal testing has proved promising, but it is still relatively far away from production.

Lead researcher, Professor Robin Shattock, states that the Imperial vaccine has shown "encouraging signs of an effective immune response".

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