The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) has agreed a deal with AstraZeneca which will support the manufacture of 300 million globally accessible doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate being trialled in the UK.
Up to 383 million US Dollars (£234 million) from Cepi will aid the technical transfer of vaccine production technology to manufacturing sites mainly in Europe.
This will create additional manufacturing capacity for the vaccine being developed by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, if it is proven to be safe and effective.
It will also purchase manufacturing materials and reserve manufacturing slots, securing 300 million doses of vaccine for the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility.
The vaccine, AZD1222, has progressed into late-stage Phase II/III clinical trials in more than 10,000 people from across the UK.
If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, the first doses to be produced under this agreement are anticipated to be available in early 2021.
They will be released on a rolling basis as production is completed, and the full quota of 300 million doses is expected to be available by July next year.
Dr Richard Hatchett, the chief executive officer of Cepi, said: “Cepi supported the early development of this vaccine candidate, contributing to the promising stage of development it has reached today.
“If it is proven to be safe and effective the vaccine could be amongst the first to be licensed, and Cepi’s partnership with AstraZeneca will make hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine accessible to those at the highest risk.
“AstraZeneca and our other industry partners have a critical role to play in rapidly developing safe and effective vaccines and manufacturing the billions of doses needed to put a permanent end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“AstraZeneca is admirably committed to equitable global access for this vaccine, and this partnership demonstrates how the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility will bring the private, public and third sectors together to make Covid-19 vaccines available to those who need them most, for the benefit of all.”
Cepi is an alliance to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious disease epidemics.