AstraZeneca said Nov. 5 that late-stage trials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine could produce results later this year, and distribution could begin shortly after, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The timing of the results depends on community infection rates around the world, the Journal reported. The trial has about 23,000 volunteers in the U.S., U.K., Brazil and South Africa.
The U.K. said Nov. 1 that it has expedited the approval process for the vaccine, meaning health regulators will examine clinical trial data in real time while planning manufacturing and distribution with AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca said it’s scaling up manufacturing of the vaccine, but it won’t start packaging it in vials because once the vaccine is in a vial, it has to be refrigerated, which makes it expire faster. It has plans to quickly package the vaccine if it receives approval, the Journal reported, and CEO Pascal Soriot said he’s confident the company can supply hundreds of millions of doses by January.
AstraZeneca has pledged to make and sell 3 billion doses of the vaccine at no profit, according to the Journal.
The timing on the vaccine approval has been uncertain since the trial was halted in the U.S. for weeks after a participant was diagnosed with an unexplained illness. The trial resumed in the U.S. Oct. 23 after the FDA found no evidence that the vaccine was responsible for the illness.
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