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AstraZeneca (AZN) to Supply Coronavirus Vaccine in Europe

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AstraZeneca PLC AZN announced that it has concluded an agreement with the European Commission (EC) for supplying up to 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222, which it is developing with the Oxford University.

Earlier in June, AstraZeneca signed a contract with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands to supply 400 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine to a few European countries. The latest deal builds upon this pact and will enable all EU member states to access the vaccine at zero profit during the pandemic. The company expects to make the vaccine available, upon potential approval, and administer the first dose by the end of 2020.

Shares of AstraZeneca have risen 10.7% so far this year compared with the industry’s increase of 0.5%.

AZD1222 is currently being evaluated in a phase II/III study.

Last month, AstrraZeneca announced interim data form a phase I/II study on AZD1222. In the study, AZD1222 demonstrated robust immune responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants. The data showed that in 95% of participants one month after injection, one dose of AZD1222 led to a four-fold increase in antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. The vaccine achieved neutralizing activity in 100% participants who received a second shot. Meanwhile, AZD1222 led to a response of immune T-cells that target the virus in all participants, peaking by day 14 after injection.

AstraZeneca inked a number of supply deals across the world to support access to the vaccine. In June, it announced agreements worth $750 million with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance to produce and supply 300 million doses of the vaccine. The company also reached a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply one billion doses of the vaccine to India and other low and middle-income countries. AstraZeneca committed to provide 400 million doses to SII before the end of this year.

In May, the company received more than $1billion in funding from BARDA to help produce the vaccine. It also secured agreements to supply at least 400 million doses to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Notably, AstraZeneca is one of the dozen companies developing a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus disease. Of these, J&J JNJ, Moderna MRNA, Pfizer PFE and its Germany-based partner BioNTech along with AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines are in the most advanced stages of development. A potential approval for any of these companies’ vaccines will be a huge boost.

Zacks Rank

AstraZeneca currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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