The U.S. Army will spend a combined $599 million to procure two leading COVID-19 candidates—AstraZeneca’s vaccine AZD1222, co-developed with the University of Oxford and a spinout company; and Eli Lilly’s neutralizing antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555).
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) disclosed yesterday that the Army this week awarded firm-fixed-price contracts of $312.5 million with Lilly (W911QY-21-C-0016) on Tuesday, and more than $286.9 million with AstraZeneca (W15QKN-21-C-0003) on Wednesday. The contracts, awarded by U.S. Army Contracting Command, cover an unspecified quantity of bamlanivimab to be made at a Lilly production site in Indianapolis; and 200 million doses of AZD1222 to be produced at AstraZeneca sites in West Chester Township, OH, and Albuquerque, NM.
Funds for the Lilly contract will come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted March 27. The AstraZeneca contract will be funded through “other procurement,” Army funds the service branch uses to finance the procurement, production, and modernization of equipment not otherwise provided for, under a fiscal year 2021 budget when that spending plan is finalized.
AZD1222 is based on an adenovirus vaccine vector and the COVID-19 spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein of the coronavirus is produced, which primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus if it later infects the body.
Bamlanivimab is an anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibody first identified in a blood sample from a recovered COVID-19 patient, and discovered through the rapid pandemic response platform of partner AbCellera, in partnership with NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.
Both AZD1222 and bamlanivimab are among 19 “Front Runner” leading candidates among the more than 300 COVID-19 therapeutics under study in GEN’s updated and just-launched “COVID-19 Drug & Vaccine Candidate Tracker.”
Just on Wednesday, Lilly said that the U.S. government agreed to buy an initial 300,000 vials of bamlanivimab over the next two months for $375 million—$1,250 a vial—to be provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) partnered with the DoD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense and Army Contracting Command.
The contract is part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program designed to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, drugs, and 300 million doses of vaccines. The contract also includes an option for the federal government to buy another 650,000 vials from Lilly for up to an additional $812.5 million through the end of June 2021.
In May, AstraZeneca was awarded up to $1.2 billion from BARDA toward development, production, and delivery of AZD1222. The development and production work to be funded by BARDA included the up-to-30,000-patient Phase III trial (NCT04516746) that is being resumed in the United States after a month-long pause in global patient recruitment, as well as another trial to evaluate the vaccine in children.
Separately, AstraZeneca has received $509.65 million in Warp Speed funding toward development of another COVID-19 candidate, the monoclonal antibody combination therapy AZD7442. Most of that money, $486 million, will fund two Phase III trials and related development activities for AZD7442, a combination of AZD8895 and AZD1061.