COVID-19 Frequently asked questions
Last updated 28 May 2020
How is AstraZeneca responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic?
AstraZeneca is responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic in a manner consistent with our values, which are to follow the science, put patients first and do the right thing. Our priorities are to ensure the continued supply of our medicines to patients, and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all our employees.
We are also supporting a truly global effort to fight the COVID-19 global pandemic. Experts from across AstraZeneca are joining forces with international health authorities, governments, academia and industry peers to accelerate the development of medicines to prevent or treat the infection, to boost diagnostic testing and to help protect healthcare workers on the frontline.
We have also provided our expertise in science and technology to international health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
How is AstraZeneca ensuring the continuity of its supply of medicines?
We have business continuity plans in place to ensure that patients continue to receive their medicines and we are not currently experiencing or anticipating any disruption to supply.
Will ongoing or new clinical trials be stopped or put on hold?
As a science-led biopharmaceutical company, our clinical research is crucial to the development of innovative new medicines and we have taken appropriate measures to ensure continuity and mitigate any impact to our research and development programmes. We have focused on ensuring the continued safety of patients in all our ongoing clinical trials, while activating continuity plans in order to minimise trial disruption from the pandemic.
Our mitigation strategies include home-based treatment and monitoring options, moving patient recruitment to less-affected regions, and planning for accelerated recruitment once the pandemic has receded. As always, our highest priority is to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees and the patients involved in our clinical trials.
Is AstraZeneca researching vaccines or treatments for COVID-19?
We have rapidly mobilised research efforts to find new ways to tackle COVID-19 to develop a vaccine, reduce the cytokine storm, and potentially protect organs. We are also identifying novel coronavirus-neutralising monoclonal antibodies that can be used for treatment as well as prophylaxis against developing the disease in those people exposed to the virus.
- Developing a vaccine: We have entered into a collaboration with the University of Oxford to bring to patients a potential vaccine being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. If the clinical trials prove successful in showing that the vaccine is effective, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.
- Reducing the cytokine storm: We are investigating whether one of our oncology medicines may help alleviate the “cytokine storm” associated with COVID-19 patients – when the immune system can overreact and attack vital organs like the lungs and the liver. This exaggerated immune response can result in pneumonia, respiratory failure and death of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 infections.
- Protecting the organs of COVID-19 patients: We are investigating one of our existing medicines to see whether it might reduce the risk of disease progression and new or worsened organ dysfunction in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 who also have cardiovascular, metabolic or kidney risk factors and are at risk of developing serious complications.
- Developing monoclonal antibodies: The aim of this research is to identify monoclonal antibodies that have the potential to recognise, bind to and neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We will investigate whether it can then be given as a preventative option for those exposed to COVID-19, as well as treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected by the virus.
Is AstraZeneca developing diagnostic tests for COVID-19?
We are providing our world class scientific and technical expertise to help boost COVID-19 testing. We are accelerating the development of our diagnostic testing capabilities to scale-up screening, and we are working in partnership with governments on existing screening programmes to supplement testing.
In the UK, we have formed a collaboration with the University of Cambridge and GSK to support the government’s national effort to boost COVID-19 testing. The new testing facility is the fourth site announced by the UK government as part of its national screening programme. We are also providing process optimisation support to the existing UK national testing centres, to continue to expand their capacity over the coming weeks.
What measures is AstraZeneca taking to ensure the safety of its employees?
AstraZeneca sites around the globe are implementing guidance from global and local government and health authorities regarding stay at home measures, social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and increased disinfecting.
What philanthropic initiatives is AstraZeneca supporting for the pandemic?
We donated nine million face masks to support healthcare workers around the world as they respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic. We partnered with the World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 Action Platform, created with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to identify countries in greatest need and inform the direction of our donation. The nine million masks included a mixture of both surgical and N95 masks, depending on country requirements.
In direct response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we have also donated US$1 million to our Young Health Programme and emergency response partners for the work they are doing to support the needs of children, youth and vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries around the world. This is aligned to our global philanthropic focus on young people and the prevention of non-communicable diseases.
Veeva ID: Z4-24508
Date of preparation: May 2020