06 AZD1222 SARS-CoV-2
For blazing a trail in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine
It’s been a search like no other. Scientists around the world are on the hunt for a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. While traditionally vaccines take years of R&D and involve rigorous multistage regulatory testing, the threat from COVID-19 has everyone scrambling to be more agile—without sacrificing safety or efficacy. In August, there were 169 COVID-19 vaccine projects underway, according to the World Health Organization.
Emblematic of this effort—generating early buzz and some much-needed hope—is the AZD1222 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, generated via a landmark partnership between Oxford University and biopharm giant AstraZeneca.
The AZD1222 project began with an edge: Scientists at Oxford’s Jenner Institute had created a similar vaccine for another coronavirus—Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS—that proved to be safe in humans and induce a strong immune response. Data from that effort allowed the research team to jump ahead, adapting its approach to a COVID-19 vaccine and moving rapidly into trials.
Within a few months of the two organizations launching their collaboration on 30 April, late-stage human trials were launched in South Africa and Brazil. If the vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, a supply chain stands on alert: AstraZeneca says it has the manufacturing capacity to produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine.
There’s no guarantee that AZD1222 will prove to be the miracle cure the world craves. But whether this vaccine or another one, citizens of the world are eagerly waiting, ready to roll up their sleeves in hopes that a COVID-free future is possible.