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Who funded the research behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine? - Approximating the funding to the University of Oxford for the research and development of the ChAdOx vaccine technology

By Samuel Cross, Yeanuk Rho, Henna Reddy, Toby Pepperrell, Florence Rodgers, Rhiannon Osborne, Ayolola Eni-Olotu, Rishi Banerjee, Sabrina Wimmer, Sarai Mirjam Keestra

Posted 10 Apr 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.08.21255103

Objectives: The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or Vaxzevira) builds on nearly two decades of research and development (R&D) into Chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine (ChAdOx) technology at the University of Oxford. This study aims to approximate the funding for the R&D of the ChAdOx technology and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and assess the transparency of funding reporting mechanisms. Design: We conducted a scoping review and publication history analysis of the principal investigators to reconstruct the funding for the R&D of the ChAdOx technology. We matched award numbers with publicly-accessible grant databases. We filed Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests to the University of Oxford for the disclosure of all grants for ChAdOx R&D. Results: We identified 100 peer-reviewed articles relevant to ChAdOx technology published between 01/2002 and 10/2020, extracting 577 mentions of funding bodies from funding acknowledgement statements. Government funders from overseas were mentioned 158 (27.4%), the U.K. government 147 (25.5%) and charitable funders 138 (23.9%) times. Grant award numbers were identified for 215 (37.3%) mentions, amounts were available in the public realm for 121 (21.0%) mentions. Based on the FOIs, until 01/2020, the European Commision (34.0%), Wellcome Trust (20.4%) and CEPI (17.5%) were the biggest funders of ChAdOx R&D. From 01/2020, the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care was the single largest funder (89.3%). The identified R&D funding was GBP104,226,076 reported in the FOIs, and GBP228,466,771 reconstructed from the literature search. Conclusions: Our study identified that public funding accounted for 97.1-99.0% of the funding towards the R&D of ChAdOx and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. We furthermore encountered a severe lack of transparency in research funding reporting mechanisms.

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