AstraZeneca has expanded its agreement with cell therapy firm Oxford Biomedica to mass-produce its Covid-19 potential vaccine, as it looks to scale-up supply ahead of a possible US fast-track approval.
While the British drugmaker works on the widely watched coronavirus vaccine hopeful, AZD1222, its main portfolio of treatments for cancer, diabetes and heart diseases scored a win after its drug, Imfinzi, was approved for use in Europe to treat an aggressive form of lung cancer.
Cambridge-based AstraZeneca’s vaccine is among the leading candidates in the global race for a successful vaccine and it has entered late-stage trials in the United States, the company said on Monday, as it targets three billion doses of the vaccine, globally.
Oxford Biomedica said in a statement that AstraZeneca would give it £15 million upfront to reserve manufacturing capacity at Oxford Biomedica’s plant and that it could get an additional £35m under a new 18-month deal.
The company was spun off in 1995 from the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine before licensing it to AstraZeneca in April.
It was among AstraZeneca’s initial partners when they teamed up to produce the vaccine and focus on UK and European supply. Tuesday’s deal could be expanded further by another 18 months into 2022 and 2023, Oxford Biomedica said, sending its share price up 2.1 per cent to 862 pence.
“Our previously announced partnership with the UK’s Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) has supported our ability to make additional facilities available for this supply agreement,” said Oxford Biomedica’s Chief Executive John Dawson.
The company, however, did not specify how many doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine it expects to produce under the expanded deal, which is for “large-scale commercial manufacture,” according to its statement.