The United Kingdom will have first access to Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine if it’s successful, a U.K. government official said Sunday.
Oxford has signed a global licensing agreement with U.K.-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to deliver 100 million doses of Oxford’s potential vaccine; the company will work to make up to 30 million of those doses available for the U.K. by September as part of the deal, according to Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
“This deal with AstraZeneca means that if the Oxford University vaccine works, people in the U.K. will get the first access to it, helping to protect thousands of lives,” Sharma said in a statement.
Researchers at Oxford and Imperial College of London will also receive 84 million pounds (about $101 million) in government funding toward developing a vaccine, Sharma announced.
Human clinical trials for Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine began last month. Imperial’s vaccine trial is set to begin in June.
The U.K. has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the second-highest number of deaths in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 244,000 cases and 34,716 fatalities.