UK secures 90 mn extra doses of potential virus vaccine

UK secures 90 mn more doses of potential virus vaccine

Image of the ultrastructural morphology of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV). Image credit: CDC

The UK has secured access to 90 million doses of two "promising" coronavirus vaccines, the government said on Friday, increasing its total orders for potential COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 350 million doses.

The country has reached agreements to buy 60 million cans from US biotech company Novavax and another 30 million cans from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of US giant Johnson & Johnson.

The orders follow previous agreements with four other companies, including BioNTech, Pfizer and Valneva, and mean the UK has agreed access to four different types of vaccines made by six companies.

"Since we don't know if any of these vaccines will work, we think it's important to spread the risk across the different types," Kate Bingham, UK Vaccines Task Force leader, told AFP.

"We need a broad portfolio of different vaccines because I don't think there will be a single vaccine that is suitable for everyone."

The new agreements include co-funding of a "groundbreaking global clinical trial" of the Janssen vaccine, the government said.

In the meantime, Novavax will conduct the most important third phase of its vaccine trials with the support of the UK's National Institute for Health Research.

In its largest single order to date, the UK has announced it will buy 100 million doses of a vaccine that is currently being tested by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca.

Bingham said she expected to close more deals with other drug companies, adding that the most optimistic timeline for starting dosing is by the end of the year.

"This is a good start, but there will be better and different vaccines in the future," she said. "This virus is here to stay."

Countries around the world have been trying to reach agreements for some of the dozen of COVID-19 vaccines currently in development.

Russia said this week it has developed the world's first vaccine to offer "sustained immunity" to the virus and is in the final stages of human trials.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Health plans to buy up to 150 million doses of the Russian vaccine, the state media announced on Friday, despite global skepticism about its effectiveness and safety.

Bingham said no Western regulatory agency would currently approve the Russian vaccine given the data available.

"There is no reason to believe that the vaccine is not working or not safe, but there is no data to suggest that it is safe or effective," she added.

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© 2020 AFP

UK Secures 90 Million More Doses of Potential Virus Vaccine (2020, Aug 14)
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