AstraZeneca pens deal to produce tens of millions more vaccine doses

This July 18, 2020, file photo, shows the AstraZeneca offices in Cambridge, England. (AP)
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Updated 01 September 2020

AstraZeneca pens deal to produce tens of millions more vaccine doses

  • Announcement follows news it is starting final human trials

LONDON: AstraZeneca has signed a £50 million ($67 million) deal to produce tens of millions of additional doses of the vaccine it is developing in partnership with Oxford University.

The supply deal was signed with local biotech company Oxford Biomedica, and will provide a significant boost to AstraZeneca’s vaccine-manufacturing capacity.

The news of the deal came as the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant announced that it was commencing its final human trials to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

On Monday, AstraZeneca said it would be testing the inoculation on 50,000 people, 30,000 of whom are in the US.

If the trials are successful, it said it may have approval from US regulators by October for emergency use of the vaccine.

The global race to develop a safe and effective vaccine is entering its late stages, and a number of countries worldwide are closing in on being the first to roll out a vaccine en-masse.

Russia approved its controversial Sputnik V vaccine for widespread use after just two months of human testing, and said it would begin large-scale manufacturing despite doubts over its readiness from the World Health Organization.

Another major British drug manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, has struck a deal with French company Sanofi Pasteur to develop a vaccine. They plan to begin human testing this month.

A number of leading vaccine candidates are based in China, and a senior health official said they have been giving one to health workers and border officials for “emergency use” since July.

But despite the global progress in developing vaccines and the widespread testing many are embarking on, doubts still remain about the efficacy of vaccination against coronavirus.

Last week, Dr. Sarah Gilbert, the lead scientist developing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, cautioned that it is “difficult” to establish for how long any vaccine will provide protection from viral infection, and what level of immunity it will offer.


At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

Updated 01 December 2020

At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

  • The driver was arrested and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police tweeted
  • Two people have died, and 15 others had suffered serious injuries

BERLIN: At least two people including a child were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier, authorities said.
Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.
Police said several people had been killed, having earlier put the death toll at two, with more than 10 injured. The local newspaper, the Trierischer Volksfreund, put the death toll at four, including a child, but police did not confirm that figure.
"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area was being questioned, police said.
Mayor Wolfram Leibe had rushed to the scene.
"We have a driver who ran amok in the city. We have two dead that we are certain of and up to 15 injured, some of them with the most severe injuries," he told public broadcaster SWR.
"I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he told a news conference, with tears stopping him from speaking further.
He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were "totally traumatised" and the street "looks a bit like after a war".
Leibe said he did not know the motive for the incident, which shocked residents of Germany's oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted an eyewitness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.
It reported that people screamed in panic when the car drove through the street.
Officers were scouring the area in search of evidence, backed by police dressed in flak jackets and carrying rifles. On the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.
Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.
In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.
In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself. Only about a week later, a local man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.
Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.
"What happened in Trier is shocking. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for the victims," Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter.