Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products will produce AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China, the British drugmaker says, its first deal to supply one of the world’s most populous countries.
The deal underscores Astra’s frontrunner position in a global race to deliver an effective vaccine, given that Chinese ventures are leading at least eight of the 26 global vaccine development projects currently testing on humans.
Under the agreement Shenzhen Kangtai, one of China’s top vaccine makers, will ensure it has annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which AstraZeneca co-developed with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, AstraZeneca said.
The Shenzhen-based company must have capacity to produce at least 200 million doses by the end of next year as part of the exclusive framework agreement, its statement on the Chinese social media site WeChat said.
The two companies will also explore the possibility of co-operation on the vaccine candidate in other markets, AstraZeneca said.
AstraZeneca inks a deal to produce the University of Oxford's coronavirus vaccine with China’s Shenzhen Kangtai https://t.co/65cVR0Nprl
— Bloomberg Asia (@BloombergAsia) August 6, 2020
There are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
AstraZeneca has signed manufacturing deals globally including the United States, Britain, South Korea and Brazil, resulting in a target to make more than two billion doses of the vaccine.
For China, this marks another major deal to secure access to a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a foreign company as the country’s other potential shots under development enter late stage of human trials.
The scramble for treatments and vaccines to curb the pandemic has boosted global pharmaceutical companies’ shares, particularly those in China.
Shenzhen Kangtai’s market value has surged almost 90 per cent to about $US20 billion ($263 billion) over the past month.