AstraZeneca has teamed up with the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. It announced that the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) invested more than $1 billion to support the development, production, and delivery of the vaccine.
CEO of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot said the US government’s investment is a gamble but it is worth taking the risk.
He said the investment showed the US government is “leading for the American people but also the world.”
The UK-based pharma company is working with Oxford University to develop a vaccine, with first deliveries expected to start in September.
Speaking to CNN’s Julia Chatterley, Soriot said, “We will start getting substantial doses by September-October, and I would say about 30% of our deliveries will take place starting in September-October and the balance will arrive by December or January so a very short timeline if you will. Lots and lots of people will be able to be vaccinated before the end of the year.”
Soriot, however, said it is not guaranteed the vaccine will work. But he is confident that there is a good reason for it to be effective.
“We’re trailblazing here because we are not following the standard process,” he added, “We are partnering with regulators both in the UK and the US, we’re working hand in hand with the FDA.”
“We are sharing data on a day to day basis and they have committed themselves to help look at our data as they come so by the time we finish the first [trial] program in August they can rapidly approve the vaccine,” he continued.
Soriot was asked whether he is worried about the time devoted to challenging the coronavirus to make something that will definitely work. He replied, “We are not cutting corners.”
“We are moving fast because of this partnership with regulators and the Oxford group and ourselves,” the CEO added. “It’s a completely standard program, it just happens that it is done very quickly.”
Soriot went on to say that many drug companies are competing against the virus but they are not against each other. He said AstraZeneca is doing this for no profit and other drugmakers will do the same.
“We need several vaccines,” he explained. “One vaccine will not be enough. We are all trying to do the same thing which is to bring a solution to this terrible pandemic.” The vaccine development program will include a Phase III clinical trial with nearly 30,000 people, including a trial in children.