The U.S. government has agreed to hand AstraZeneca PLC up to $1.2 billion to secure the supply of a potential coronavirus vaccine that could be ready as early as October.
Under the deal, the government will bankroll a 30,000-person vaccine trial in the U.S. starting in the summer, plus the ramp-up of manufacturing capacity to make at least 300 million doses. The first doses will be ready in the fall should the vaccine prove effective, it said.
Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary, called the deal a “major milestone” in the administration’s effort—code-named “Operation Warp Speed”—to make a safe, effective vaccine widely available to Americans by 2021.
The vaccine in question was developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and is one of a small group of candidates already being tested in humans. Others include vaccines from Pfizer Inc. PFE, -0.13% and Moderna Inc. MRNA, +2.51% AstraZeneca AZN, +0.39% AZN, +1.94% , under a licensing deal with Oxford, has responsibility for manufacturing the university’s vaccine, and has promised to sell the vaccine without making a profit during the pandemic.
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