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Last Updated : Oct 08, 2020 12:01 PM IST | Source: Reuters

AstraZeneca could profit from COVID-19 vaccine as early as July

The London-listed firm previously said it would not profit from the vaccine "during the pandemic", and the report attributes the development to a memorandum of understanding signed this year between AstraZeneca and Brazilian public health organization, Fiocruz.

Reuters

AstraZeneca could start profiting from its COVID-19 vaccine as soon as July next year, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing a memo showing the British drugmaker can declare when it considers the pandemic to have ended.

The London-listed firm previously said it would not profit from the vaccine "during the pandemic", and the report attributes the development to a memorandum of understanding signed this year between AstraZeneca and Brazilian public health organization, Fiocruz.

AstraZeneca, which developed the vaccine with Oxford University, signed multiple supply-and-manufacture deals for more than 3 billion doses globally, although details on the terms have been scant.

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According to FT, the "Pandemic Period" could be further extended beyond July 1, 2021, but only if Cambridge, England-based AstraZeneca "acting in good faith considers that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is not over."

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"From the outset, AstraZeneca's approach has been to treat the development of the vaccine as a response to a global public health emergency, not a commercial opportunity," the drugmaker said in a statement on Thursday.

The company said it has created multiple supply chains to ensure that access to its vaccine is timely, broad and equitable for high- and low-income countries alike, "with capacity currently in excess of three billion doses."

"We continue to operate in that public spirit and we will seek expert guidance, including from global organisations, as to when we can say that the pandemic is behind us," the company added.

Pricing and supply of experimental COVID-19 vaccines have been widely debated as richer countries pump billions of dollars into funding, and AstraZeneca has also been granted protection from future liability claims.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
First Published on Oct 8, 2020 11:55 am
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