US pledges $1.2 billion to access 300 million doses of experimental COVID-19 vaccine

US pledges $1.2 billion to access 300 million doses of experimental COVID-19 vaccine

The United States has pledged to pay as much as $1.2 billion to get first access to 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed and tested in England.

The vaccine is being developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and licensed to British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

It is expected to be delivered as early as October, though that only means the doses will be stored until the vaccine completes clinical trials ensuring it is safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection.

The vaccine is in early clinical trials and being tested for safety, whether it produces antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and whether it protects the immunized from becoming infected with the virus. The first tests began in England on April 23.

A volunteer is injected with either an experimental COVID-19 vaccine or a comparison shot as part of the first human trials in the U.K. to test a potential vaccine, led by Oxford University in England on April 25, 2020.

Phase 3 clinical studies will begin this summer in both the United Kingdom and the United States, where approximately 30,000 volunteers will take part, according to U.S. Health and Human Services.

The agreement is between AstraZeneca and the United State’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. BARDA will pay up to $1.2 billion to support advanced clinical studies, manufacturing and development.

The contract “is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a news release.

Operation Warp Speed is a White House initiative to speed COVID-19 treatment and vaccines. President Trump has called for the development of 300 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine by January as part of the effort.

AstraZeneca said Thursday it is working to secure total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses. It has cut deals for the first 400 million as of Thursday, including 100 million to the United Kingdom and 300 million to the United States.

"AstraZeneca recognizes that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk," the company said.

“At risk,” meaning without knowing definitively that it works or can be safely administered. If it turns out not to, it will be destroyed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have to authorize the British-made vaccine for it to be made available in the United States.

The experimental vaccine was originally called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 but has been renamed AZD1222.

The vaccine is made from a weakened version a chimp adenovirus. This is a common virus that in humans causes various low-grade infections such as the common cold.

In the vaccine, it has been genetically altered so it carries proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This stimulates the body to produce antibodies, hopefully protecting the person from becoming infected. The adenovirus itself has been genetically changed so it cannot grow in humans.

Three other vaccine coronavirus candidates — by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sanofi — have received BARDA support for late-stage development and manufacturing, HHS said Thursday.


News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »