AstraZeneca (AZN) - Get Report could supply European nations with as many as 400 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine under a deal reached this weekend with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance -- if the vaccine under consideration proves safe and effective.
The rollout of the vaccine could begin as soon as the end of this year and would use one now under trial by the University of Oxford -- one of several under investigation globally. In the U.S., Moderna (MRNA) - Get Report is another vaccine developer for the coronavirus. Others are also racing to come up with a shot to ward off the novel virus.
Headed by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, the alliance is looking to speed the supply of the vaccine and "make it available to other European countries that wish to participate in the initiative," according to a company statement.
Europe, which saw earlier devastation from the virus especially in Italy and Spain, has been surpassed as a global hot spot as the U.S., Russia and Brazil have seen massive rises in diagnoses. Spain currently has logged nearly 244,000 total cases and Italy is close behind with a few thousand fewer total diagnoses. Many around the globe are bracing for potential "second waves" of outbreaks.
AstraZeneca said it's building its supply chains "in parallel" across the world, including for Europe, and is looking to expand manufacturing capacity. The drugmaker is also open to working with other companies to increase access to the vaccine at "no profit" during the pandemic, AstraZeneca said.
"This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval," said Pascal Soriot, the company's CEO, in a statement. “With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly.”
AstraZeneca has also inked similar deals with the U.K., U.S., and other nations, and its total manufacturing capacity is at about two billion doses.
Oxford University recently began advanced clinical trials of its vaccine under-research in the U.K. that will test the shot in about 10,000 adult volunteers, and other advanced trials are set to start for participants in other countries, too.
AstraZeneca, which ended Friday trading slightly lower on the New York Stock Exchange at $51.47, said the announcement "is not anticipated to have any significant impact on the Company’s financial guidance for 2020; costs to manufacture the vaccine are anticipated to be offset by funding by governments."