Speaking on British national news radio station LBC, UK health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday said that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine would “most likely” be available in the first few months of 2021.
“We have got 30 million doses already contracted with AstraZeneca (AZN), in fact they are starting to manufacture those doses already, ahead of approval, so that should approval come through – and it’s still not certain but it is looking up – should that approval come through, then we are ready to roll out,” Hancock told LBC. “The best-case scenario is that it happens this year. I think more likely in the early part of next year – in the first few months of next year is the most likely,” he added.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering plans to fast-track approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which it is developing with the University of Oxford, in a bid to make it available to Americans before November’s election. In August, the UK announced that it will purchase doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from drug developers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
The comments come as Australia just announced a $1.2 billion supply and production agreement for over 84.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and the University of Queensland/CSL. According to the government, this will enable it to offer a free COVID-19 vaccine progressively throughout 2021 in Australia, if ongoing trials prove successful.
The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine candidate AZD1222 has now entered Phase three trials. To date it has generated strong immune responses, with no significant safety concerns. Results from the late-stage trials are anticipated later this year, depending on the rate of infection within the clinical trial communities.
The vaccine uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
AZN shares have gained 7.5% this year as the drugmaker joined the list of companies engaged in the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine. Looking ahead, the $90.26 average analyst price target puts the upside potential at a promising 68% in the coming 12 months.
Overall, the stock scores a Moderate Buy consensus from the analyst community. (See AstraZeneca stock analysis on TipRanks)
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