AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have partnered for the global development and distribution of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, an investigational recombinant adenovirus vaccine for preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2.

Under the partnership agreement, AstraZeneca would take up the development, manufacturing and distribution of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford.

AstraZeneca chief executive officer Pascal Soriot said: “As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent. This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.”

AstraZeneca BioPharmaceuticals R&D executive vice president Mene Pangalos said: “The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have a longstanding relationship to advance basic research and we are hugely excited to be working with them on advancing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 around the world.”

The new vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 will use recombinant adenovirus vector ChAdOx1

The new vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 will use a viral vector, produced from a weakened version of the virus that causes the common cold. The virus contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which stimulates the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it infects the body after vaccination.

The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) is said to generate a strong immune response from a single dose, without causing an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual, due to its non-replicating nature.

In addition, the vaccines prepared from the ChAdOx1 virus have been used previously and were safe and well-tolerated, with temporary side effects including temperature, flu symptoms, and headache.

The potential COVID-19 vaccine is being evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trials to determine its safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centres in Southern England.

Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson said: “Like my colleagues all across Oxford, I am deeply proud of the work of our extraordinarily talented team of academics in the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.

“They represent the best tradition of research, teaching and contributing to the world around us, that has been the driving mission of the University of Oxford for centuries.

“Like people all across the country, we are wishing them success in developing an effective vaccine. If they are successful, our partnership with AstraZeneca will ensure that the British people and people across the world, especially in low and middle income countries, will be protected from this terrible virus as quickly as possible.”