Has the British Pharmaceutical Company AstraZeneca Cracked the COVID-19 Vaccine Code?

Today, the number of COVID-19 cases across the world has surged to around 7.5 million, whereas the number of deaths recorded are 421,000. Owing to this dreadful scenario, most health experts have agreed that the need for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is very clear. They now believe to being the human race back to previous normality development of COVID-19 vaccine is an absolute need of the hour.

So it’s not surprising that, around the world, anticipation is so high among nations for the COVID-19 which could be the elixir of life for people across the globe. Currently, with more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines under development, scientists are pretty confident that at least one will be successful. Though we do have some skeptics that remind us that optimism about the development of an AIDS vaccine was once high and 40 years later also there is no vaccine. The world needs to raise above skepticism and criticism. Experts today believe that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be easier to develop than an AIDS vaccine, probably because the groundwork and foundation was already laid in the past while making vaccines for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, who has collaborated with the University of Oxford was one of the first ones to produce a vaccine prototype which actually reached the clinical trial stage. After early setbacks and observations, the researchers have now declared that they are completely ready to roll out their vaccine candidate for the masses in the months of September or October, initially with production for two million doses underway. The company has started the mass-production of its experimental AZD1222 vaccine. Oxford University’s Jenner Institute has joined hands and worked with the Oxford Vaccine Group to develop the AZD1222 vaccine that mainly includes a protein of the SARS CoV-2 virus strain, which is known to cause the corona virus disease known as COVID-19.

This week AstraZeneca also announced it had made partnership agreements with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Serum Institute of India and Gavi, to double the production capacity of the vaccine to two billion doses.

Oxford University began the trial of its COVID-19 vaccine with hundreds of volunteers in the month of April. And now expanding them to 10,000 participants. Researchers also announced this week they would start trial tests in mid-June in Brazil, the first country outside Britain to take part in the research study. The firm has also signed deals to produce 400 million doses for the US and 100 million for the UK if it is fairly successful in human trials.

Also as a part of a Trump administration effort to get vaccine alliance into U.S. hands as soon as possible AstraZeneca has agreed to another major manufacturing partnership. AstraZeneca and Emergent Bio Solutions have signed an $87 million deal to manufacture doses of the University of Oxford’s adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine for the U.S.This manufacturing deal is part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to rapidly develop and scale-up production of targeted vaccines by the end of 2020.

According to a report by Bloomberg, AstraZeneca has also approached one of its rivals in the US, Gilead Sciences, over the possibility of a potential merger. This is done to scale up the production of vaccines so that it can be made accessible to people over vast geographies. This transatlantic tie-up would be the biggest health care merger yet, establishing a company worth around 200 billion pounds. Also bringing together two pharmaceutical giants in efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

The company has said that together, all the agreements made mark the latest commitments to enable global access to the novel vaccine. But the company also considers it’s a huge responsibility to make it available to low-and-middle-income countries, along with the company’s recent partnerships with the US and UK. AstraZeneca is building a number of parallel supply chains across the world to support global access at absolutely no profit during the pandemic and has so far proudly secured manufacturing capacity for two billion doses of the vaccine.

The UK pharmaceutical group surely has the world at its feet, after having moved so far ahead in producing a COVID-19 vaccine and developing other novel treatments using its own research and laboratories.

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