Busy AstraZeneca inks yet another big COVID-19 vaccine deal, this time with EU

AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca pledged 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the EU at no profit during the pandemic. (AstraZeneca)

As Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline move ahead in advanced COVID-19 vaccine supply negotiations with the EU, AstraZeneca has signed into the union’s first finalized agreement.

The drugmaker on Friday pledged 400 million doses of its investigational COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222, at no profit for EU countries. The deal builds on a prior pact with the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, which is led by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.  

Under the new agreement, EU member countries can “access the vaccine in an equitable manner," AZ says, and can redirect vaccines to other countries in Europe.  

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Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson and a partnership between Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are in advanced in talks with the EU to supply 200 million doses and 300 million doses, respectively. Johnson & Johnson on Thursday said it’s concluded exploratory talks and is entering contract negotiations. The EU concluded early talks with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline late last month. 

RELATED: AstraZeneca, after prior issues with FluMist, ramps up production in response to pandemic 

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is the farthest along in testing among that group of pharma giants. The company recently kicked off late-stage testing, and with success, could begin deliveries in late 2020. Johnson & Johnson has started human testing on its shot, while the Sanofi/GSK partnership team is in preclinical stages. 

Aside from EU talks, all of the companies have inked major partnerships with the U.S. and the U.K., as well. AstraZeneca's Friday deal is larger than other supply arrangements inked with governments to date, but it isn't as big as the company's licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India for 1 billion doses to boost access in low- and middle-income countries

The drugmaker has also signed deals to help make the vaccine available in JapanRussia, China, Mexico, Argentina and elsewhere. 

RELATED: AstraZeneca will work with Mexico, Argentina to produce COVID-19 vaccine doses 

But delivery of any doses will depend on successful late-stage testing. The company has started a phase 2/3 trial in the U.K., but it hasn’t yet completed enrollment, according to Politico reporter Zach Brennan. 

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