Argentine firm behind AstraZeneca COVID vaccine Latam production sees April/May launch

Maximilian Heath
·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A sign at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentine biotech firm working on the production of 400 million doses of an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for Latin America said on Friday it could begin shipping the active substance of the product to Mexico for completion.

Esteban Corley, director of mAbxience, the biotech firm, said he foresaw the finished product could be distributed in Latin America between April and May.

"Sometime in late February these materials will be exported to Mexico and in Mexico they will be formulated, filled and released" through Mexican Laboratory Biomont, Corley told journalists in a digital press conference. On Wednesday, the Argentine government said it had agreed to co-produce with Mexico and Britain's second-largest drugmaker, AstraZeneca Plc, <AZN.L> the potential vaccine against the virus at present under development at the University of Oxford.

On Thursday, the general director of AstraZeneca in Mexico told a press conference that the trials in phase III of the product would end between the end of November or December, after which the company would seek government approvals.

The news of the development of a potential vaccine in Argentina and Mexico has raised hopes in Latin America, which has seen just under a third of global deaths and cases and continues to be one of the worst hotspots.

Corley said the finished product was likely to cost between three and four dollars.

"Our understanding will be the same in all territories and is based on cost," the director of mAbxience, part of the larger Insud Group, said.

He added that he was confident the initial goal of producing 250 million doses in 2021 could be met.

(Reporting by Maximillian Heath, writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio)