Oxford Biomedica (OXBDF) has signed a five-year collaboration agreement with UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), to help ramp up the production of AstraZeneca Plc’s (AZN) potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The gene and cell therapy company announced on Monday that under the terms of the agreement VMIC will provide equipment for two new manufacturing sites to scale up the production of AstraZeneca’s adenovirus vector based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222 from the summer and help meet demand in the UK and Europe.
The agreement comes after Oxford Biomedica last month partnered with AstraZeneca for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca said last week that it signed supply chain deals for the capacity to produce 2 billion doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, which it is developing with Oxford University. The UK-based pharmaceutical company recognised that the vaccine may not work but said that it is committed to progress with clinical trials with speed, while also scaling up manufacturing at risk.
“Since we became involved in addressing the urgent need for UK manufacturing capacity for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222, we have strived to support VMIC’s broader goal of accelerating and supporting UK manufacturing capacity and capabilities for vaccines more generally,” said John Dawson, CEO of Oxford Biomedica. “This highly collaborative partnership allows for a rapid deployment capability to be established, and also accelerates fit out and utilisation of another two manufacturing suites within our new commercial manufacturing facility, Oxbox.”
Shares in AstraZeneca have jumped more than 40% since mid-March as the company joined the list of firms engaged in the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine. Bloomberg reported on Sunday that the drugmaker is interested in a potential merger with rival Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) in what would be the biggest health-care deal on record.
Meanwhile, shares in Oxford Biomedica have more than doubled in value since reaching a low in March and are now trading 15% higher than at the start of the year. The stock rose 3.5% to $10.10 as of Friday’s close.
Five-star analyst Joseph Pantginis at H.C Wainwright & Co recently reiterated a Buy rating on Oxford Biomedica with a $18.26 price target (81% upside potential) saying that the company emerges in a “strong position given its capabilities to support both initial and, if successful, future efforts for the development and large scale production of a vaccine against COVID-19”.
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