AstraZeneca pledges $174M to ramp up coronavirus vaccine supply deal with Emergent

Emergent BioSolutions
Emergent aims to produce up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates by the end of 2020. (Emergent)

Despite signing massive deals around the world to produce the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca has been relatively quiet stateside. Now, the British drugmaker will expand its partnership with a Maryland CDMO to get its U.S. shot manufacturing up and running at full steam.

With a $174 million manufacturing pact signed Monday, Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions will help produce bulk drug substance for AstraZeneca and Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 shot starting this year.

The agreement follows a separate $87 million deal the companies inked in early June to reserve space at Emergent's Baltimore Bayview facility for three years of commercial production. The partnership now totals $261 million through 2021, with an option to expand in future years, Emergent said in a release.

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The newest deal comes under the umbrella of the Trump administration's Warp Speed initiative to rapidly develop and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S. public at no cost. The federal government separately agreed to pay Emergent $628 million in June to build capacity and reserve manufacturing space at the CDMO's Bayview plant to help produce targeted vaccine candidates.

The facility, which the Department of Health and Human Services has designated as a Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, includes 4,000 liters of production capacity across four independent suites, Emergent said. Johnson & Johnson has its own deals with Emergent for capacity at the same facility.

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Emergent BioSolutions sign $87M deal to produce U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca and Emergent's original deal in June reserved large-scale manufacturing capacity for Oxford's shot, dubbed AZD1222, through at least 2020 with the possibility for more based on a "flexible capacity deployment model."

The initial deal also included contract development manufacturing services to aid AstraZeneca's goal of producing more than 2 billion shots per year by 2021, Emergent said at the time.

Since signing that pact, AstraZeneca has worked to shore up finishing duties for its shot candidate, which is currently in phase 1/2 clinical trials.

RELATED: AstraZeneca reaches supply deal with Brazilian government to produce millions of doses of COVID-19 shot

Late last month, the British drugmaker signed a $127 million deal with the Brazilian government to produce an initial 30 million finished doses of Oxford's shot.

Roughly half that amount will be available by December, AstraZeneca said, and Brazil has also committed to produce an additional 70 million doses, with AstraZeneca supplying the unfinished vaccine at no cost. The doses will be finished in Brazil by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, also known as Fiocruz, as AstraZeneca does not have a vaccine production suite at its Brazilian manufacturing facility, the drugmaker said.

That deal came immediately on the heels of AstraZeneca reportedly going to the negotiating table with the Japanese government for a similar supply deal, with Japan's Daiichi Sankyo in talks to handle some of those finishing duties.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson sets stage for COVID-19 shot rollout with 'first in a series' manufacturing deal

AstraZeneca also inked a deal in early June with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to manufacture and distribute 300 million doses of Oxford's vaccine by the end of 2020. Separately, AZ agreed to a licensing deal with the Serum Institute of India to provide 1 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries, with the goal of 400 million produced by year-end.

Emergent's Bayview facility will play host to both AstraZeneca and J&J after the New Jersey drugmaker agreed to a $135 million deal in April to tap Emergent for its COVID-19 shot manufacturing.

The companies followed that up with a $480 million work order earlier this month for a five-year supply of J&J's vaccine candidate. Emergent is aiming to produce up to 100 million doses worth of bulk vaccines by the end of 2020 and up to 300 million through 2021, the company has said.

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