As the globe learns to live with the coronavirus, AstraZeneca said it will start to generate a small profit on its coronavirus vaccine, even as the pharmaceutical firm is in talks with several governments about further orders of its Covid-19 vaccine for delivery next year.
During the pandemic, a pledge was made by AstraZeneca of selling the vaccine that was developed in partnership with Oxford University at no profit and said in a press conference on Friday that low-income countries would continue to receive the vaccine at no profit, while a post-pandemic commercial approach would apply to other new orders even if infections in Europe rose again.
The vaccination contributed one cent to the Anglo-Swedish company’s core profits per share of $1.08 in the third quarter, which was a surge of 14 per cent.
There was a 49 per cent surge in total product sales to $9.74 billion in the quarter, with revenues from the vaccine being more than $1 billion.
“We started this project to help … but we also said that at some stage in the future, we will transition to commercial orders,” Chief Executive Pascal Soriot told journalists.
“It will never be high priced. Because we want the vaccine to remain affordable to everybody around the world,” he added.
Covid-19 was transforming into an endemic, claimed Soriot, a French national. Endemic is a term used to define a low level of infection that is part of daily life and is a notch lower than a pandemic.
According to Soriot, the company was holding discussions with unnamed countries for new orders of the vaccine, primarily to be delivered next year, with some potential customers wanting booster shots of the vaccine.
This week, AstraZeneca announced its intentions to create a new unit that will be focused on coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses. The new business unit will be an independent one and will be in charge of its own manufacturing and distribution, the company announced on Friday.
The stocks of the FTSE 100 pharmaceutical company were down by 3.4 per cent on Friday at about 91.22 pounds, as the company’s total profits for the third quarter were not up to analysts’ estimates.
The inclusion of rare-disease specialist Alexion from July 21, owing to last year’s $39 billion takeover transaction, had a positive impact on key products sold by the company that included including kidney disease therapy Farxiga and established asthma medicine Symbicort.
However, the firm’s profits were hit by integration costs associated with the deal, as well as a $1.2 billion writedown for an experimental kidney disease medicine AstraZeneca had purchased bought in 2012. Profits were also impacted by the total spending of the company which increased due to investments made in the company’s therapeutic pipeline.
Due to price decreases in China, sales of the top-selling lung cancer medicine Tagrisso grew slower than predicted.
As it maintained its profits target for the year, AstraZeneca said its expenditures connected to its antibody cocktail for preventing and treating Covid-19 would be made up for by a profit increase from the Covid-19 vaccine in the fourth quarter.
While the reassurance of the guidance was encouraging, the rising costs might raise some worries, according to Liberum analyst Alistair Campbell.
With its not-for-profit model and issues regarding effectiveness data, supply, and links to rare blood clots, AstraZeneca’s vaccine has had a bumpy ride, which has sparked rumors about whether the company would want to continue with its Covid-19 vaccine business for the long run.
(Adapted from BBC.com)