Oxford Biomedica snags manufacturing equipment to ramp up production of COVID-19 vaccine

In the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, the University of Oxford has stormed to an early lead with the commercial manufacturing support of British drugmaker AstraZeneca. Now, in an effort to scale up capacity for global demand, one of AstraZeneca's manufacturing partners has struck a deal for new equipment.

Oxford Biomedica has inked a five-year deal with the U.K.'s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) to build out the CDMO's Oxbox facility to help produce doses of the university's adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine. 

As part of their deal, VMIC will supply manufacturing equipment for two suites at Oxford Biomedica's 84,000-square-foot Oxbox facility in Oxford, U.K., the CDMO said. The suites will be dedicated to producing Oxford's vaccine, AZD1222, but can also be used to manufacture other viral vector vaccines. 

In return, Oxford Biomedica will provide VMIC with "training and technical assistance" for its staff to scale up manufacturing of viral vector vaccines at its new facility at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus at Oxford scheduled to open in mid-2021.

The manufacturing supply agreement will help Oxford Biomedica begin churning out doses of Oxford's vaccine candidate—which is currently in phase 2/3 trials in the U.K.—beginning this summer. 

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Late last month, Oxford and British drugmaker AstraZeneca agreed to a one-year deal covering "multiple batches" of the university's vaccine as part of a consortium aimed at speeding production of the shot.