June 15, 2020 / 12:24 PM / 25 days ago

UPDATE 1-AstraZeneca picks Catalent for packaging, supplying potential COVID-19 vaccine

(Adds background, details on deal)

June 15 (Reuters) - British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc has struck a deal with contract manufacturer Catalent Inc to help meet its global target of supplying two billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca has signed several deals to expand the production of the vaccine, and the latest tie-up comes a day after the company entered into an agreement with European governments to supply 400 million doses of the vaccine, starting by the end of 2020.

The company last week chose Emergent BioSolutions Inc as its U.S. partner to help make the 300 million doses pledged to the United States.

Catalent said on Monday it would provide vial filling and packaging capacity at its manufacturing facility in Anagni, Italy and prepare for supplying hundreds of millions of doses from August 2020, and potentially through to March 2022. (reut.rs/2YvBP0I)

The company’s shares were up 6.9% at $74.40 in trading before the bell.

There are currently no vaccines or treatments approved for the contagious respiratory illness and AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, is among the first to move into mid-stage trials.

Experts have cautioned that a safe and effective vaccine could take at least 12 to 18 months from the start of development. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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