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AstraZeneca Rushes Covid-19 Vaccine Production Ahead of Trial Results

AstraZeneca isn't waiting for the final test results to start production of its potential coronavirus vaccine.

Shares of AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report edged up Friday after the biopharma giant said it was boosting its manufacturing capacity of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to 2 billion doses ahead of the results of clinical trials later this summer.

AstraZeneca's stock price rose 0.61% to $54.21 a share on heels of the company's announcement that it was ramping up production of the not-yet-fully-tested vaccine under development at the University of Oxford.

"We are starting to manufacture this vaccine right now - and we will have it ready to be used by the time we have the results," Pascal Soriot, CEO of the British drugmaker, told the BBC.

In the interview, Soriot also acknowledged the risk involved with rushing ahead with production on the potential vaccine, which the U.S. government has invested $1 billion in, securing 400 million doses in the process.

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AstraZeneca said it now anticipates having clinical trial results on the vaccine by August, at which point it will know whether the new drug works. Soriot, AstraZeneca's CEO, has said the company will not seek to make any profit off the vaccine.

"This decision comes with a risk but its a financial risk and that financial risk is the vaccine doesn't work," Soriot said. "Then all the materials, all the vaccines we have produced, will be wasted."

AstraZeneca's decision to boost production capacity stems in part from agreements signed with a pair of global health organizations backed by multi-billionaire power couple Bill and Melinda Gates and the Serum Institute of India, the largest by volume vaccine manufacturer in the world.

AstraZeneca has agreed to ship half of the 2 billion doses it is manufacturing to low- and middle-income countries.