British pharmaceuticals group, AstraZeneca, had secured more than $1.0 billion from the U.S to help fund the production of its COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca on Thursday, May 21, said it had “received the support of more than $1.0 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production, and delivery of the vaccine”.
The company however added it was in contact with governments and international health institutions to ensure the vaccine is available globally.
AstraZeneca said it had concluded deals for the first 400 million doses of the vaccine and has manufacturing capacity for one billion doses, with it hoping to begin deliveries in September.
The investment accelerates a race to secure vaccine supplies, seen as a key step toward restarting global economies after lockdown.
Astra is partnering with the University of Oxford to develop and distribute a vaccine being trialed in the UK.
“AstraZeneca is advancing its ongoing response to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organizations to make the University of Oxford’s vaccine widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner,” a statement said.
The company added it was “engaging with international organizations”, including the World Health Organization, for the fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine around the world”.
The U.K. drugmaker received the money from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and said it has secured capacity to make 1 billion doses. Although AstraZeneca has said it expects to have shots ready as soon as September, the company’s vaccine candidate is still in human trials, with no guarantee of success.
According to a statement from the Health and Human Services Department, the funding for AstraZeneca is part of the Operation Warp Speed effort to secure vaccines for the U.S.
Astra can receive up to $1.2 billion under the agreement, and the U.S. expects 300 million doses to be available as early as October.