Italy was to receive the first shipments last week with other countries to follow.
In addition to these donations, AstraZeneca is accelerating the development of its diagnostic testing capabilities to scale-up screening and is also working in partnership with governments on existing screening programmes to supplement testing. To help ensure the continued supply of its medicines to patients, AstraZeneca will screen employees across its manufacturing and supply network.
AstraZeneca’s Research and Development (R&D) teams have also been working expeditiously to identify monoclonal antibodies to progress towards clinical trial evaluation as a treatment to prevent COVID-19. More than 50 virology, immunology, respiratory, and protein engineering experts across research, clinical, regulatory, and manufacturing are placing the highest priority on developing a treatment to minimise the global impact of the disease.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our first thoughts are with those suffering from this global pandemic and with the brave healthcare workers who are caring for them. As a company, we have prioritised our response by partnering with international health authorities and others to share our scientific knowledge and expertise, and we have taken this step to donate these masks as we continue to accelerate our efforts on diagnostic testing and a treatment against COVID-19.”
The nine million masks will be manufactured and distributed from China, where the large-scale and accelerated effort has been aided by AstraZeneca’s leading position and strong relationships with the country’s healthcare system and manufacturing sector.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, AstraZeneca has already made several rounds of financial contributions, medicines and personal protective equipment donations to health organisations in China and several other countries around the world.