September 1, 2020, 10.19 PM

LONDON, KOMPAS.com – AstraZeneca expanded its agreement with Oxford Biomedica to mass-produce its potential coronavirus vaccine.

AstraZeneca is looking to scale up supply ahead of a possible US fast-track approval in which its partner is a cell therapy firm.

The British drugmaker is making steadfast progress in developing the coronavirus vaccine hopeful AZD1222.

Read also: Indonesia Eyes Partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Covid-19 Vaccine

More recently, the British company scored big when its drug, Imfinzi, was approved for use in Europe to treat an aggressive form of lung cancer.

AstraZeneca’s drugs for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease rather make up its main treatment portfolio.

The company's shares gained as much as 1.5 percent to trade at 84.6 pounds by 8:07am GMT, outperforming the benchmark FTSE-100 index, after Oxford Biomedica announced the expanded agreement and on news of the EU approval for Imfinzi.

Cambridge-based AstraZeneca's vaccine is among the leading candidates in the global race for a successful vaccine and it has entered late-stage trials in the United States, the company said on Monday, as it targets 3 billion doses of the vaccine, globally.

Read also: Covid-19 Vaccine Trials in US Underway in Biggest Test to Date

Oxford Biomedica said in a statement that AstraZeneca would give it 15 million pounds ($20 million) upfront to reserve manufacturing capacity at Oxford Biomedica's plant and that it could get an additional £35 million under a new 18-month deal.

The company was spun off in 1995 from the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine before licensing it to AstraZeneca in April.

It was among AstraZeneca's initial partners when they teamed up to produce the vaccine and focus on UK and European supply.

Read also: Pope Francis Urges Rich Countries to Share Coronavirus Vaccine

Tuesday's deal could be expanded further by another 18 months into 2022 and 2023, Oxford Biomedica said, sending its share price up 2.1 percent to 862 pence.

"Our previously announced partnership with the UK's Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) has supported our ability to make additional facilities available for this supply agreement," said Oxford Biomedica's Chief Executive John Dawson.

The company, however, did not specify how many doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine it expects to produce under the expanded deal, which is for "large-scale commercial manufacture", according to its statement.

(Writers: Pushkala Aripaka, Aakash Jagadeesh Babu | Editors: Patrick Graham, Susan Fenton)

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-astrazeneca-oxford-bi/update-2-astrazeneca-bolsters-covid-19-vaccine-supply-with-new-deal-idUSL4N2FY2E4 

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