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AstraZeneca to Ensure Equal Access to Coronavirus Vaccine

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AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) has signed agreements with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (“CEPI”), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Serum Institute of India (“SII”) supply its coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, which it is developing with Oxford University, if successfully developed

The company signed a $750 million agreement with CEPI and Gavi to support the manufacturing, procurement and distribution of 300 million doses of the vaccine. Delivery is expected to start by the end of 2020. The two organizations are backed by Bill and Melinda Gates. The license agreement with SII will enable supply of one billion doses for low and middle-income countries, with a commitment to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020.

AZD1222 is currently being evaluated in a phase II/III study, with around 10,000 volunteers, which Oxford University initiated recently. Last month, AstraZeneca received more than $1 billion in funding from BARDA to help produce the vaccine. AstraZeneca recently also secured agreements to supply at least 400 million doses to the United States and United Kingdom.

AstraZeneca is also developing its approved drugs including Calquence and Farxiga as a treatment for COVID-19.

AstraZeneca shares have gained 8.1% so far this year against the industry’s decrease of 1.7%.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has identified AstraZeneca among the five companies, which are most likely to be successful in making vaccines to prevent COVID-19, per a New York Times report.The remaining four companies are Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) , J&J (JNJ - Free Report) , Merck (MRK - Free Report) and Pfizer.

As part of the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) initiative to rapidly develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the administration narrowed down on the five promising candidates from an extensive list of probable candidates, which are being developed by around a dozen companies. The White House aims to begin widespread vaccination of its citizens by the end of this year.

The identified companies will reportedly receive extra federal funds, help to run their clinical studies and manufacturing assistance.

Zacks Rank

AstraZeneca currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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