Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products is going to produce the AstraZeneca Plc's potential coronavirus or COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China, the British drugmaker mentioned on Thursday, its first deal for supplying one of the world's most populous nations.

For meeting the market demand in China, Shenzhen Kangtai is going to ensure it has an annual production capacity of a minimum of 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which is being co-developed by AstraZeneca along with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, AstraZeneca mentioned.

COVID-19 Vaccine in China

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It must have the capacity to produce at least 200 million doses by the end of next year as part of the exclusive framework agreement, its statement on the Chinese social media site WeChat added. The two companies will also explore the possibility of cooperation on the vaccine candidate in other markets, AstraZeneca said.

There are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has said AstraZeneca's shot is one of the leading candidates. The company has signed manufacturing deals globally to meet its target of making two billion doses of the vaccine. The companies did not respond to requests for comment.

(With agency inputs)