Thursday 27 August 2020 4:34 pm

EU to pay Astrazeneca £300m for Oxford coronavirus vaccine

The European Union will pay €336m (£300m) for 300m doses for a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and drugs giant Astrazeneca.

In a statement, 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.

Read more: Moderna set to provide EU with 80m doses of coronavirus vaccine

An initial agreement between the two parties was made earlier this month. 

The deal will be financed through the EU’s Emergency Support Instrument, which was set up to help the bloc’s members address damage caused by the pandemic. 

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that deal was an “important step forward” in the bloc’s attempts to secure a working vaccine for the new disease.

Representatives for the EU are in discussions over similar deals with a spate of other pharma firms, including GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Curevac and Moderna. 

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Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety, added: “Our negotiations have now delivered clear results: a first contract signed delivering on our commitment to ensure a diversified vaccine portfolio to protect the public health of our citizens. 

“Today’s signature – made possible by the important groundwork  undertaken by France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands – will ensure that doses of a vaccine which, if proven effective and safe, will be delivered across member states.”

The Oxford vaccine is widely considered one of the best candidates of the 180 global programmes aimed at finding a treatment for coronavirus.

After reporting promising early stage trial results last month, the vaccine is currently in large scale stage three trials. 

Read more: UK signs deal for 90m more coronavirus vaccine doses

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.

However, Professor Sarah Gilbert added that there was “absolutely no certainty” that this would be the case.