Oxford University and AstraZeneca partner for COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Oxford University and its spin-out company Vaccitech announced an agreement with UK based biopharmaceutical specialist AstraZeneca for the further development, large-scale manufacture and potential distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, currently being trialled by the University.

With immediate effect, the partnership is said to allow for rapid vaccination worldwide if the COVID-19 vaccine candidate proves to be effective. The vaccine candidate was developed by the University’s Jenner Institute, which began trials in humans at the end of April with the University’s Oxford Vaccine Group. It is the first such partnership to be formed since the UK government launched its dedicated Vaccines Taskforce to help find, test and deliver a new coronavirus vaccine on April 17. It also comes alongside £20 million (US$24.89 million) government funding for Oxford University’s vaccine research and support for the institution’s clinical trials. Under the new agreement, the final terms of which are to be agreed in the coming weeks, British-Swedish multinational AstraZeneca is to work with global partners on the international distribution of the vaccine, particularly working to make it available and accessible for low- and medium-income countries.

The partners said they have agreed to operate on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, with only the costs of production and distribution being covered. Oxford University and its spin-out company Vaccitech, which jointly have the rights to the platform technology used to develop the vaccine candidate, are to receive no royalties from the vaccine during the pandemic while any subsequent royalties received are to be reinvested directly into medical research, including a new Pandemic Preparedness and Vaccine Research Centre, which is being developed in collaboration with AstraZeneca.

“Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come. We believe that together we will be in a strong position to start immunising against coronavirus once we have an effective, approved vaccine. Sadly, the risk of new pandemics will always be with us and the new research centre will enhance the world’s preparedness and our speed of reaction the next time we face such a challenge”, said Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford University.

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