The United States secured almost a third of the first one billion doses planned for AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine by pledging up to $1.2 billion, as world powers scramble for medicines to get their economies back to work.

The White House tapped former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui to helm the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative, which has a goal of developing and distributing hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine against COVID-19.

A brief roundup of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci – who has been considered one of the most trusted leaders tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States – once again stressed that, as far as the evidence suggests, the novel coronavirus is naturally occurring and was not made in a laboratory.

United Nations leaders called for a global effort to develop and distribute to all at affordable prices vaccines, treatments and testing kits against COVID-19.

Cobra Biologics, a manufacturer of a possible COVID-19 vaccine being developed by British scientists, may know by the end of May if the firm can make a million doses a month with a view to building stocks for commercial supply when the vaccine is approved.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are partnering on the global development and distribution of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, which are collaborating on a messenger RNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, plan to start testing in the United States once the Food and Drug Administration gives clearance.

There are more than 70 groups worldwide rushing to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, including Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and BioNTech, Novavax and many others. One of the groups that appears to be ahead of the race is not a commercial biopharma company: Oxford University’s Jenner Institute.

Expectations that a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available within a year’s time are mixed, based on recent surveys conducted by BioSpace, as well as the analytics company GlobalData.