Washington has purchased nearly a third of the initial one billion doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental coronavirus vaccine.
The U.S. Department of Health has agreed to provide up to US$1.2 billion to fast-track AstraZeneca’s vaccine development while securing 300 million doses for the entire US reports MDLinx. The vaccine is being developed from a laboratory at Oxford University.
“This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said.
AstraZeneca is collaborating with Microsoft, to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) ‘Factory for Health’. One of the startups in the ‘factory’ is Kap Code. The tech company created a tool based on a method of hypnosis called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The start-up scans social media posts and uses that data to better understand patient experiences. Microsoft was founded by Gates. He is now among the company’s top shareholders.
Jean-Philippe Courtois is the President of Microsoft Global Sales and used to to be on AstraZeneca’s board.
The drug-maker also teamed up with Glaxo-Smith Klein to provide a “proprietary libraries of molecular compounds” for screening with the coronavirus Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation’s CEPI is also funding drug-maker Moderna for a Covid vaccine. Moderna has strategic alliances for development programs with AstraZeneca.
Oxford University, where the vaccination is being developed, has also enjoyed funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates fund for disease research.
The British-based pharmaceutical giant also boasts a scandal-ridden history. This includes a 2014 lawsuit whereby Astrazeneca was caught faking conferences and bribing doctors in Russia and China to buy their drugs. The company was forced to pay. Earlier in 2010, Astrazeneca was caught offering kickbacks to doctors to prescribe their Seroquel drug to patients with disorders that the drug wasn’t even tested for. The company was forced to cough up $520 million in damages.