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China firm to make 100 million doses of potential UK Covid-19 vaccine by 2020 end

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Shenzhen Kangtai one of China’s top vaccine makers will produce 100 million doses of British pharma company AstraZeneca’s potential Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, the two companies separately announced in China on Thursday.

The vaccine deal is the first to cater to China, the most populous country in the world, the statements said.

The potential coronavirus vaccine developed by the company with Oxford University has produced a promising immune response in a large, early-stage human trial, medical journal The Lancet said in a report in July.

AstraZeneca’s China arm on Thursday announced the deal on the social media app WeChat, saying it has signed an “…exclusive authorisation cooperation framework agreement with Kangtai Biology in the Chinese mainland market to actively promote the development, production, supply and commercialisation of the adenovirus vector vaccine AZDI222 through technology transfer”.

The Chinese company posted a statement on the deal on the website of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

As part of the technology transfer deal, the Chinese company will ensure the annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the new coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020.

The deal adds that the “…vaccine design capacity will be expanded to at least 200 million doses by the end of 2021 to meet the needs of the Chinese market”.

The two companies will also explore the possibility of cooperation on the vaccine candidate in other markets, AstraZeneca said.

In May, the British company and the University of Oxford partnered to develop and produce the potential new vaccine for Covid-19, which has triggered the worst pandemic in decades.

The experimental Covid-19 vaccine is probably the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had said in late June.

“Certainly in terms of how advanced they are, the stage at which they are, they are I think probably the leading candidate,” Swaminathan had said, adding:

“So it’s possible they will have results quite early.”

The company has signed manufacturing deals globally to meet its target of making 2 billion doses of the vaccine, the Reuters said in a report Thursday.

The British company, according to Bloomberg, has struck deals to supply hundreds of millions of doses of the experimental vaccine for the UK, US and Europe.

Shenzhen Kangtai is one of China’s biggest vaccine makers, with shots against diseases such as pneumonia and measles. Many of its products employ more sophisticated techniques, including genetic engineering. It’s also a major supplier of hepatitis B vaccine.


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