AstraZeneca and Oxford University announce landmark agreement for COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford today announced an agreement for the global development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2.

The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine, being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine if the clinical trials prove successful in showing the vaccine is effective.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent. This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities. Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have a longstanding relationship to advance basic research and we are hugely excited to be working with them on advancing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 around the world. We are looking forward to working with the University of Oxford and innovative companies such as Vaccitech, as part of our new partnership.”  

Alok Sharma, UK Business Secretary, said: “This collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca is a vital step that could help rapidly advance the manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine. It will also ensure that, should the vaccine being developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute work, it will be available as early as possible, helping to protect thousands of lives from this disease.”

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: “Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come. We believe that together we will be in a strong position to start immunising against coronavirus once we have an effective approved vaccine. Sadly, the risk of new pandemics will always be with us and the new research centre will enhance the world’s preparedness and our speed of reaction the next time we face such a challenge.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: “Like my colleagues all across Oxford, I am deeply proud of the work of our extraordinarily talented team of academics in the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group. They represent the best tradition of research, teaching and contributing to the world around us, that has been the driving mission of the University of Oxford for centuries. Like people all across the country, we are wishing them success in developing an effective vaccine. If they are successful, our partnership with AstraZeneca will ensure that the British people and people across the world, especially in low and middle income countries, will be protected from this terrible virus as quickly as possible.”

The potential vaccine entered Phase I clinical trials last week to study safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centres in Southern England. Data from the Phase I trial could be available next month. Advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year.