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November 05, 2020

AstraZeneca hoping to deliver COVID-19 vaccine by start of 2021

The drugmaker is scaling up its manufacturing to prepare for distribution early next year

Prevention Illness
astrazeneca_covid-19_vaccine. Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

AstraZeneca has developed its COVID-19 vaccine alongside researchers at the University of Oxford.

AstraZeneca is planning to make the results from its late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials available to regulators by the end of the year, meaning that its vaccine could be ready for distribution when the calendar flips to 2021.

The drugmaker is boosting its manufacturing capacity in preparation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses by early next year – assuming the vaccine is deemed effective by regulators, according to the Associated Press.

"We have aligned the timing of delivery of vials to the timing of the clinical trial readout," AstraZeneca Chief Executive Dr. Pascal Soriot said on a conference call. "On a global basis, we’ll be ready to supply hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine around the world by January."

Once the findings of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trials are reported, government officials will have to approve the vaccine for use. In the U.S., that responsibility falls to the Food and Drug Administration. 

The drugmaker has promised to provide the vaccine for free during the pandemic. When the public health crisis ends, developing countries will continue to receive supplies of the vaccine at no cost. Wealthy countries will only have to pay very little.

"We are extremely committed to make sure that not only the rich countries but also, once again, the low- and middle-income countries can afford to have this vaccine in order to protect their people," said Ruud Dobber, who helms AstraZeneca’s U.S. unit.

AstraZeneca has developed its COVID-19 vaccine alongside researchers at the University of Oxford.

The drugmaker paused its global late-stage trials of its coronavirus vaccine in September after a participant suffered a potential adverse reaction. The study resumed its trials in the U.S. last month.

U.S. officials have suggested a coronavirus vaccine could become available in limited capacity as early as late this year or early 2021, with widespread distribution to the general public not expected until later next year. 

Pfizer and Moderna each began Phase 3 trials for their COVID-19 vaccines in late July. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine also is in a late-stage trial.  

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