Astrazeneca today said it has expanded its previous agreement with Oxford Biomedica to mass produce a potential vaccine for the Covid-19 virus.
Gene and cell therapy firm Oxford Biomedica said the FTSE-listed pharma giant will give it £15m to reserve manufacturing capacity at its plant.
Under the terms of the 18-month agreement Astrazeneca could pay a further £35m plus costs until the end of 2021.
Astrazeneca’s vaccine – dubbed AZD1222 – is among the frontrunners in the global race to find a successful vaccine for coronavirus.
The vaccine has moved into phase three clinical testing in the US, with the company targeting 3bn doses.
Last week the EU said it will pay Astrazeneca €336m (£300m) for £300m doses of the potential vaccine.
The EU said that as well as the initial doses, the deal would give it the chance to purchase an additional 100m doses, which would then be distributed to member states on a pro rata basis.
The vaccine’s lead developer has said that it is possible that it could be rolled out for public use by the end of the year.
Oxford Biomedica said its tie-up with Astrazeneca could be expanded by a further year and a half into 2022 and 2023.