LONDON – AstraZeneca hopes to show its COVID-19 vaccine is effective by the end of this year and is ramping up manufacturing so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said Thursday.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is working with the University of Oxford to develop one of the most closely watched COVID-19 vaccines, which is in late stage trials in the U.S., Britain and other countries to determine its safety and effectiveness. Once those results are reported, regulators will have to approve the vaccine for widespread use.
“We have aligned the timing of delivery of vials to the timing of the clinical trial readout,’’ Soriot told analysts on a conference call. “On a global basis, we’ll be ready to supply hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine around the world by January.”
Governments and public health authorities are anxiously awaiting the development of a vaccine as they look for a way to combat the COVID-19 pandemic without the restrictions on business and social life that are punishing the world economy. Infection rates are rising in many countries amid a second wave of the virus that has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide.
Soriot’s comments came as AstraZeneca released results showing that third-quarter revenue rose 3% as the pandemic reduced new cancer diagnoses and elective procedures, cutting demand for its products.
AstraZeneca and Oxford have pledged to provide their COVID-19 vaccine on a non-profit basis during the pandemic. AstraZeneca will continue to supply the vaccine to developing countries without profit after the pandemic is brought under control, and wealthy countries will pay a “relatively low cost,” Ruud Dobber, president of the company’s U.S. unit, told The Associated Press.
“We are extremely committed to make sure that not only the rich countries but also, once again, the low- and middle-income countries can afford to have this vaccine in order to protect their people,” Dobber said in an interview.
Kate Bingham, chair of Britain’s Vaccine Taskforce, says data on the two most advanced vaccine candidates — AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer’s collaboration with BioNTech — should be available in early December.