UK secures early access to 90million doses of two different coronavirus vaccines

The UK has gained access to 90million doses of two coronavirus vaccine candidates.

Britain will buy potential Covid-19 vaccines from US drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc, the companies confirmed on Friday, August 14, bringing the total number of deals by the UK government to six as the race for shots heats up.

Johnson & Johnson said its Janssen Pharmaceutica unit will supply the UK Government with its candidate known as Ad26.COV2.S with an initial sale of 30million doses on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.

The advance purchase agreement will also provide an option for an additional purchase of up to a 22million doses, it said.

In a separate statement, Novavax said the UK would buy 60million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, for a phase 3 clinical trial.

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If the vaccines are proven to be safe and effective they could be delivered to the UK in the middle of next year.

With six deals each so far, Britain and the United States are leading the global race to strike deals with drugmakers for vaccines as the pandemic continues to rage.

The latest agreements bring the UK's total number of doses secured to 362 million for the population of 66 million.

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J&J said it has also agreed to collaborate with the UK Government on a global Phase 3 trial to explore the two-dose regimen of its vaccine candidate.

It will run parallel to the Phase 3 trial investigating the single-dose programme.

No vaccine has yet proven to work, but more than 20 candidates are in clinical trials.

Kate Bingham, chair of the Government's vaccines task force, said: "The sooner we start the two-dose study of the Janssen vaccine the sooner we will know whether the vaccine can provide durable, long term protection against Covid-19 infection.

"The vaccine is based on technology used in its recently approved preventative Ebola vaccine designed to induce long-term immunity in individuals over one years old.

"It is also encouraging that Novavax's recent clinical data shows their vaccine triggers an immune response greater than that in patients who have recovered from the disease."

Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said: "Ending the current Covid-19 pandemic will take a global effort, and this agreement is an important example of how we can begin to address this significant challenge through collaborative research."

Stanley C Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax, said: "Our Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK will be a critical component to assess the efficacy of our Covid-19 vaccine, which in a Phase 1 trial has already demonstrated that it is generally well-tolerated and elicits robust antibody responses greater than those seen in patients who have recovered from Covid-19 disease."

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