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AstraZeneca to Supply 400M Coronavirus Vaccine Doses in Europe

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British drugmaker, AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) announced that it will supply 400 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, which it is developing with Oxford University, to some European countries. It has signed an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. If the vaccine is successfully developed, it will supply these doses for which deliveries will begin by the end of the year,

AstraZeneca shares have risen 3.2% so far this year against the industry’s decrease of 5.1%.

AstraZeneca has an agreement with Oxford University for the global development and distribution of the latter’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine, now known as AZD1222, to prevent COVID-19. AZD1222 is currently being evaluated in a phase II/III study, which began last month. Data from the study, being conducted on 10,000 volunteers, is expected to be released shortly. If the data is successful, late-stage studies with 30,000 participants are expected to begin in a number of countries.

Last month, AstraZeneca received more than $1billion in funding from BARDA to help produce the vaccine. AstraZeneca has signed a number of supply deals across the world to support access to the vaccine. It recently secured agreements to supply at least 400 million doses to the United States and United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, AstraZeneca announced agreements worth $750 million with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance to produce and supply 300 million doses of the vaccine. The two organizations are backed by Bill and Melinda Gates. It expects to begin delivery of the vaccine before the end of 2020. AstraZeneca also reached a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply one billion doses of the vaccine to India and other low and middle-income countries. AstraZeneca has committed to provide 400 million doses to SII before the end of the year.

These supply deals will require it to produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine, if it is successfully developed.

AstraZeneca is working to expand its manufacturing capacity for the vaccines and said it is open to collaborating with other companies to improve access to the same.

AstraZeneca is one of the dozen companies developing a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus disease. Of these, J&J (JNJ - Free Report) , Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) , Novavax, Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) and its Germany-based partner BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University and Inovio Pharmaceuticals have initiated human/clinical studies on a coronavirus vaccine. Infact, Moderna expects to initiate a pivotal phase III study in July.

Infact, per a New York Times report, published this month, AstraZeneca is one of the five companies, which the Trump administration has identified as part of the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) initiative to rapidly develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The other four companies are Moderna, J&J, Merck and Pfizer. The report mentioned that the five companies will get extra federal funds, help to run their clinical studies and manufacturing assistance

Separately, AstraZeneca’s marketed drug Calquence is being evaluated in the CALAVI study to see its effect on the exaggerated immune response (cytokine storm) of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection. Farxiga is also being studied in the DARE-19 phase III study as a treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or chronic kidney disease and are at risk of developing serious complications such as organ failure.

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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