June 13 (UPI) -- AstraZeneca announced Saturday that it has reached an agreement with the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance of Europe to supply as many as 400 million doses of the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine, with deliveries beginning at the end of the calendar year.
The initiative was spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, but the pharmaceutical company said it aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to participate.
"This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University's vaccine following approval," said Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca's chief executive officer, in a press statement. "With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response."
At the end of May AstraZeneca reached a deal with British gene and cell therapy company Oxford Biomedica on Thursday to produce a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
It has also received more than $1 billion from the U.S. government to develop its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
In May Oxford University announced the start of a Phase II/III UK trial of a vaccine candidate, with about 10,000 adult volunteers.
"AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk," the company's statement said.
In the United States, Army scientists are testing coronavirus vaccines developed by outside laboratories, but also one created by the Army itself, and say human clinical trials could begin as soon as the end of this summer.