Sunday, August 1

AstraZeneca CEO Responds to Criticism of Covid Vaccine Supply | AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has mounted strong advocacy for the drug maker’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts, saying the company should be proud of what it has done for the world and is doing “the best.” to produce more, as the company faces EU legal action for non-delivery, and shipments to poorer countries have also been delayed.

The company generated $ 275 million (£ 197 million) in revenue from the Covid vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford in the first three months of the year and shipped 48 million doses to 120 countries through the global vaccine sharing initiative. Covax, 80% of which went to low- and middle-income countries. In total, it has supplied more than 300 million doses of vaccine to more than 165 countries so far this year.

“We do not regret anything, we have not been perfect but we did our best, we should be proud of what we did in the world,” said Soriot. He added that the company was on track to produce 200 million doses ready for distribution one month from May.

In India, where Covid cases have exploded in a second catastrophic wave, more than 90% of vaccines are made with the AstraZeneca jab. “Imagine what India would be like if we hadn’t stepped up?” Soriot said. “The world needs this vaccine.”

Most of the vaccine revenue in the first quarter, $ 224 million, came from Europe, as the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker reported that overall quarterly revenue rose 15% to $ 7.3 billion, better than expected analysts. New drugs, such as the diabetes drug Farxiga, contributed more than half of the revenue. The company made a pre-tax profit of $ 1.6 billion, an increase of 72% year-on-year.

US rivals Pfizer and Moderna hope to make billions of dollars from their coronavirus vaccines, but AstraZeneca has vowed to make its vaccine available for non-profit purposes during the current pandemic. He made a loss of three cents a share on the vaccine in the first quarter, but hopes to break even with the vaccine in the long term.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is considered a lifesaver for poorer countries, as it is cheaper and easier to store and transport than some of the other coronavirus vaccines that are being produced.

However, far fewer doses than expected have been delivered through Covax, which is run by organizations like the World Health Organization, as a result of export bans, hoarding and supply shortages. The Indian government has restricted the exports of its largest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute, which produces the AstraZeneca jab.

Soriot said he understood the Indian government’s decision to prioritize its own population. He said: “This pandemic in India has really broken out and it is something that has taken many by surprise. It is not yet clear when it will be possible to export again. [from India]. “

He said AstraZeneca was doing “everything possible to produce as much as we can,” but added that this depended on how much the cell cultures produced in their factories. “We cannot tell the cells in the bioreactors to produce more. The cycle to make the vaccine is very long, so that’s the limitation. “

This week, the EU launched a court case against the pharmaceutical company, after it administered only about a quarter of the 120 million doses expected in the first quarter of this year due to production problems at a plant in Belgium.

Soriot said AstraZeneca was “fully committed to increasing supply to Europe” and would deliver nearly 50 million doses to European countries by the end of April, as promised.

The drugmaker also said it would send the vaccine to the US health regulator for emergency use authorization “in the coming weeks,” incorporating data from late-stage clinical trials in the US and outside the US. And emerging data from the real world.

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I had planned to submit for approval in the first half of April But gathering all the data has taken longer than expected. The collection of data from almost four months of vaccinations in the UK has increased the complexity of the presentation.

Trials in the US showed that the vaccine was 76% effective in preventing symptomatic disease Covid-19 (rising to 85% in those over 65) and 100% effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalizations.

Soriot said he expected Covid’s negative impact on the diagnosis and treatment of many other illnesses to fade, and anticipated better financial performance in the second half, but stuck to the full-year outlook for low teen income growth. at constant exchange rates.

Shares of AstraZeneca rose 4% on Friday afternoon to £ 77.08.

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