COVID-19 Frequently asked questions
Last updated 3 Septemeber 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: to follow the science, put patients first and do the right thing. We continue to ensure the supply and quality of our medicines to patients and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all our employees.
We are also supporting the truly global effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborating with scientists, governments and multilateral organisations, we are sharing our scientific knowledge and expertise to accelerate efforts to advance the development of potential 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?
Our medicines supply chain is robust and we have business continuity plans in place to ensure that patients continue to receive their medicines. We have not had, and do not anticipate, any disruption to supply.
Have ongoing or new clinical trials been 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.
What approaches is AstraZeneca researching for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19?
We have rapidly mobilised research efforts to find new ways to tackle COVID-19 through the development of a potential vaccine to prevent disease, advancing novel coronavirus-neutralising monoclonal antibodies that could be used as a preventative and treatment approach, and evaluating some of our medicines as potential treatments for the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
What is the status of vaccine development?
We have a landmark collaboration with the University of Oxford for the development of their potential vaccine. Clinical trials are currently underway around the world to investigate the potential vaccine in different age groups, diverse racial, ethnic and geographic groups. These studies will determine if the vaccine will protect against COVID-19.
If the clinical trials prove successful, AstraZeneca is committed to broad and equitable supply of the vaccine at no profit during the period of the pandemic and is working tirelessly towards the goal of achieving this at an unprecedented pace. We continue to identify and forge partnerships to develop a number of supply chains around the world.
We are developing a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the potential prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Discovered by Vanderbilt University and licensed to AstraZeneca in June 2020, the mAbs were optimised by AstraZeneca with half-life extension and Fc Receptor binding reduction. In a recent Nature publication, the mAbs were shown preclinically to block the binding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to host cells and protect against infection in cell and animal models of disease and have since advanced into early clinical trials.
What treatment approaches Is AstraZeneca researching for COVID-19?
- 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.
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 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 was operational in just five weeks – a task which would usually take six months and is testament to the strength of both the UK’s life sciences sector and the life sciences cluster in Cambridge.
The Centre is entering its second phase and will continue to be led by AstraZeneca with CRO Charles River Laboratories managing the more than 200 directly employed scientists, with the University of Cambridge providing the lab facility and staff for the Centre to deliver testing capability into 2021. We hope the innovation introduced in the Centre will help foster diagnostic capability for the network in the UK for years to come to support the Government’s ongoing testing programme.
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: Z4-26667
Date of preparation: Aug 2020