AstraZeneca has agreed with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine, dubbed AZD1222, from the end of 2020.

Lead by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, the IVA is aimed at accelerating the supply of the vaccine and ensure its availability to other European countries willing to participate in the initiative.

The company intends to build various supply chains across the world, including in Europe, and is planning to expand manufacturing capacity, and collaborate with other companies to provide access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval.

“With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response.”

Oxford University’s Jenner Institute has developed the Covid-19 vaccine AZD1222

Initially, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, now known as AZD1222, was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, in collaboration with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

The vaccine has been developed leveraging replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) has been selected to generate a strong immune response from a single dose and it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual, as it does not replicate.

Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have demonstrated to be well tolerated in more than 320 people till date, although they may cause temporary side effects including temperature, influenza-like symptoms, headache or a sore arm.

AstraZeneca has recently signed similar agreements with the UK, the US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, for 700 million doses.

The firm has inked a licence agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply an additional one billion doses, for low- and middle-income countries.

Oxford University has initiated a Phase 2/3 UK trial of AZD1222 in approximately 10,000 adult volunteers. Other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries.