It’s been just over a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns were enforced in countries across the world. Nobody really knew what was happening or when we’d return to normal. Or if we’d ever return to normal.
12 months on and vaccination programs are progressing well in some countries, not so well in many others. As a result, restrictions are starting to lift in some countries with the hope that this will be the case on a global basis sooner rather than later. There is even a chance that something like normal life might return. Pub gardens and gyms have now opened in England and we will even be able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with friends and family next month.
Our international Life Sciences team has played a crucial role in the global efforts to develop effective vaccines, advising on a trio of landmark COVID-19 projects. Our UK team has advised on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to be approved, while our Canadian team acted for Precision NanoSystems, Inc (PNI) on its agreement with Can Sino Biologics Inc. to co-develop an mRNA lipid nanoparticle (mRNA-LNP) vaccine.
We have also advised long standing client AstraZeneca on its landmark collaboration agreement for the development and commercialisation of the University of Oxford’s recombinant adenovirus COVID-19 vaccine (known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19). The arrangement enabled the two organisations to globally develop, manufacture and distribute the University’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has now been approved in many countries and is a key part of the global vaccination program. I had my first shot of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine a month ago. I couldn’t possibly have imagined that less than 10 months after assisting AZ on the transaction I would actually be a recipient of the vaccine!
As well as being a landmark deal for AstraZeneca, this has also been a huge achievement for our team. The sheer volume of work that had to be done in a very short timeframe was obviously a huge challenge, with many of us often wondering whether there were enough hours in the day to complete it. It was also one of the first deals we’d done completely remotely – everything was done via Zoom/Teams and we had to quickly adapt to this new way of working.
I am immensely proud of what our team has achieved. These will be the projects of a lifetime for many of us and I’m sure we will be celebrating properly as soon as we’re able to!