By The Nation
The funding injection, announced on Sunday, comes as Oxford University yesterday (May 19) agreed a global licensing agreement with the UK-based AstraZeneca pharma company, for the manufacture and commercialisation of their potential vaccine.
If the Oxford vaccine is successful, AstraZeneca will make up to 70 million doses for international export, with 30 million available by September for UK residents.
“The UK continues to lead the global response to find a vaccine, and the government is backing our scientists to do this as quickly as possible,” said Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said: “Our company is working hard to establish parallel supply agreements with other nations and multilateral organisations to ensure fair and equitable access around the world.”
Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said:
“The University of Oxford is immensely proud of the scientists at the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group who have worked tirelessly to discover and develop this vaccine in record time. We now have a partner in AstraZeneca who are ideally positioned to help us evaluate the vaccine, manufacture it and distribute it to UK citizens as well as to the rest of the world. They share our commitment to true global access to end this pandemic.”
Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College London said:
This funding will greatly accelerate our efforts to demonstrate the effectiveness of our vaccine and make it available to at-risk populations as rapidly as possible. Access to such support allows us to move at unprecedented speed.”
The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to research and develop a vaccine. The government has already pledged £250 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the highest contribution of any country. This is part of the UK committing £388 million to the international drive to develop vaccines, tests and treatments. In June, the UK will also host the upcoming global pledging conference for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.