Oxford University has finalised a global licensing agreement with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced. This is for the commercialisation and manufacturing of the coronavirus vaccine currently being trialled at the university. The Government minister also revealed that the UK will be the first to gain access to the vaccine.

Mr Sharma told the daily briefing: “This means that if the vaccine is successful, AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for the UK.

“This is part of an agreement of over 100 million doses in total.

“The UK will be first to get access.

“We can also ensure that in addition to supporting people here in the UK, we’re able to make the vaccine available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost.”

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He continued: “To further support our domestic manufacturing capability, last month I announced that the Government will accelerate building the UK’s first vaccine manufacturing centre.

“Today I can announce that we will invest a further £93 million in the centre ensuring that it opens in summer 2021.

“This is a full 12 months ahead of schedule.

“The centre, which is already under construction, will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months.”

In total, the Government has now committed over a quarter of a billion to developing a vaccine in the UK.

However, Mr Sharma warned there are “no certainties”.

He told the briefing: “In spite of the tireless efforts of our scientists, it is possible we may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine.

“So we also need to look at other drug treatments and therapeutics for those who get the virus.

“Today I can report six drugs have entered initial live clinical trials. If positive results are seen they will advance to larger scale trials.”

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