AstraZeneca targets year end for COVID-19 vaccine

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca should be available globally “at cost price” by year end, the firm’s director general said Tuesday.

“Our objective is to bring the vaccine to everybody, (and) equally to do so on a not-for-profit basis so we shall be providing the vaccine at cost price,” Pascal Soriot told RTL radio.

“At cost price that will be about 2.5 euros ($2.8) per unit.

“We hope to be able to produce a vaccine by the end of the year… perhaps a little earlier if all goes well” on the back of phase three results expected in the autumn, Soriot added in an interview.

Early results of a closely watched Phase 1/2 trial published this week in The Lancet suggest the vaccine candidate is safe and induces an immune response.

US group Johnson & Johnson has also vowed to deliver a vaccine at “non-profit” pricing.

In contrast rivals Pfizer, Merck and Moderna confirmed Tuesday to US lawmakers they would not sell vaccine at cost.

Soriot said the vaccine had performed well in stage 1 and 2 trials suggesting it offered good tolerability without serious side effects.

Stage 3 trials will now be carried out on a wider sample before product can finally be rolled out.

“We are working hand in hand with the regulators, we exchange our data on a daily basis to enable very swift evaluation. We are carrying out clinical trials which allows us to gain time,” said Soriot.

He added the group had begun to produce product in “a number of regions” so they would be ready to start delivering “if the clinical trials are positive.”

A separate trial in Wuhan, China, where the disease first emerged late last year and involving more than 500 people, showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

The race is on in labs across the world to win the race to produce a vaccine to deal with the world health crisis the world has seen in a century.

More than 200 candidate vaccines are being developed with 23 having progressed to clinical trials with human volunteers.

:AFP