British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Thursday said that it has tied up with the University of Oxford to help develop and distribute the coronavirus vaccine being researched by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. More importantly, AstraZeneca said that the UK will get a fair idea by July if its Covid-19 vaccine is effective.
The University of Oxford started its human trial phase of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in the UK last week. Two volunteers were injected the vaccine in the first round which will gradually be tested on hundreds of people who have been recruited for the study.
AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine globally
Under the agreement, AstraZeneca has been vested with the responsibility of solely manufacturing the vaccine for worldwide supply. The vaccine will be tried and tested by the University of Oxford, while the worldwide manufacturing and distribution will be done by AstraZeneca.
The company's chief executive, Pascal Soriot, told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' that "the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent". Sariot also said that the result form the first phase of the study will be available from the Jenner Institute latest by mid-June. "By June, July we will already have a very good idea of the direction of travel in terms of its potential efficacy," he said.
Vaccine to be supplied at cost
The world has been impatiently waiting for researchers and drugmakers to come up with some positive news on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine. Presently, there is no approved vaccine or drug for the treatment of the deadly coronavirus. Although AstraZeneca is confident that a positive result on the outcome of the human trial of the Covid-19 vaccine can be known by July, scientists have said that the successful development of a vaccine will take 12 to 18 months.
Moreover, the cost of the vaccine has also been a cause of concern. AstraZeneca added that for the duration of the pandemic, it would be supplying the vaccine at cost. "This is a terrible crisis we're facing and ... a vaccine is of course the number one tool we can bring to managing this," Seriot added.
The University of Oxford started its human trial for a potential Covid-19 vaccine last week. A microbiologist became the first human to be injected with the vaccine for the human phase trial in an initial group of 800 volunteers recruited for the study.
There are currently around 89 vaccines for the coronavirus under development globally, according to the World Health Organization. However, the good thing is that once a vaccine is developed it will be immediately given approval, which won't delay the manufacturing and distribution process.