Virus vaccine 'could be ready' in December

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Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca's chief executive says its coronavirus vaccine candidate could be ready for use at the end of December, pending regulatory approval.

"Regulatory authorities are working continuously with our data. If they are fast when we are ready, we can start vaccinating people in January, possibly at the end of December," chief executive Pascal Soriot was quoted as saying by Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on Saturday.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is working with Oxford University in Britain to manufacture a possible coronavirus vaccine, tapped as one of the most promising in the race to find a cure for the pandemic.

"Perhaps we will never earn money from it (the vaccine), no one knows how often you'll need to vaccinate," Soriot said.

"If the vaccine is very effective and protects people for many years, and the disease disappears, then there is no market."

Soriot noted that many experts however believe there will be need for re-vaccinations.

"If that has to be done annually we can earn money off it from 2022.

"But we have to ascertain that the vaccine really works," he said.

The vaccine entered phase-three trials in September. They were temporarily stopped because of health concerns with a participant in Britain, but have since been resumed.

Australia, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Japan and Brazil have signed contracts with AstraZeneca for vaccine deliveries if the medication is approved.