Coronavirus: Potential virus vaccine 'ready for September'

Sean Rayford Getty

Sean Rayford Getty

The drugmaker said it has signed first agreements for at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses of the potential vaccine, which it is developing with Oxford University. But while human trials are now underway, success is not guaranteed.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that a quarter of Americans have "little to no interest" in taking a coronavirus vaccine and are skeptical that the safety of the vaccine could be compromised based on the rate of which vaccines are being developed amid the outbreak.

The development comes as the worldwide cases of coronavirus tops five million while almost 329,000 people have died.

AstraZeneca is partnering with University of Oxford to develop and distribute a vaccine being trialled in the UK.

Britain this week pledged 84 million pound ($103 million, 93 million euros) to be split between researchers at Oxford University and Imperial College London to help finance a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Data from the trial is expected shortly which, if positive, would lead to late-stage trials in a number of countries".

AstraZeneca said it recognised that the vaccine might not work, but said it was committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed, and scaling up manufacturing at risk.

Bringing a vaccine into circulation is seen as a vital part of working towards kickstarting economies following largescale lockdowns.

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Less than two-thirds of respondents said they were "very" or "somewhat" interested in a vaccine, a figure some health experts expected would be higher given the heightened awareness of COVID-19 and the more than 92,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States alone. It uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

And it will also carry out a trial on children, although they are not as badly affected as other sections of the population.

In addition to working with the USA, the drugmaker is also in discussions with global groups such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization for allocation and distribution of the potential vaccine worldwide.

"It's not surprising a significant percentage of Americans are not going to take the vaccine because of the bad messaging we've had, the absence of a communication plan around the vaccine and this very aggressive anti-vaccine movement", said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Vaccine development is moving forward at an unprecedented pace, according to officials, and trials are on target to hit the goal of having one available in early 2021.

Other drugmakers including Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi are in various stages of vaccine development.

Last week, US biopharmaceutical company Moderna reported promising results from the first phase of a trial of an mRNA vaccine it is developing with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

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