AstraZeneca revenues up as it delivers jab to 120 countries via Covax

Quarterly results from Anglo-Swedish producer of Covid vaccine show better-than-expected 15% rise

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Last modified on Fri 30 Apr 2021 04.59 EDT

AstraZeneca has generated $275m (£197m) in revenues from its Covid vaccine in the first three months of the year and shipped 48m doses to 120 countries through the global vaccine-sharing initiative Covax.

Most of the vaccine sales ($224m) were in Europe – as the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker reported overall quarterly revenues up 15% to $7.3bn, better than analysts had expected. New medicines, such as the diabetes drug Farxiga, contributed more than half of revenues. The firm made a pre-tax profit of $1.6bn, up 72% year-on-year.

US rivals Pfizer and Moderna expect to make billions of dollars from their coronavirus vaccines, but AstraZeneca has pledged to make its jab available on a not-for-profit basis during the current pandemic. It made a loss of 3 cents a share on the vaccine in the first quarter.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is seen as a lifeline for poorer countries, as it is cheaper and easier to store and transport than some of the other coronavirus vaccines being produced. The company said 80% of the Covax shipments went to low and middle-income countries. In total, it has so far supplied more than 300m vaccine doses to more than 165 countries.

However, Covax, which is led by organisations including the World Health Organization, has delivered far fewer doses than expected, as a result of export bans, hoarding and supply shortages. The Indian government has restricted exports from its largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute in response to a catastrophic second wave in the country.

In Europe, AstraZeneca faces legal action over supply shortages. It said it would submit the vaccine to the US health regulator for emergency use authorisation “in the coming weeks,” incorporating data from the US and non-US late-stage clinical trials and emerging real-world data.

It had planned to file for approval in the first half of April, but has struggled to pull together the data. Compiling data from almost four months of vaccinations in the UK has added to the complexity of the submission.

US trials showed that the vaccine was 76% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 disease (rising to 85% in those aged over 65), and 100% effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation.

Pascal Soriot, the AstraZeneca chief executive, said he expected the negative impact of Covid on the diagnosis and treatment of many other diseases to fade, and anticipated a better financial performance in the second half, but stuck to the full-year outlook of low-teens revenue growth at constant exchange rates.

“We delivered solid progress in the first quarter of 2021 and continued to advance our portfolio of life-changing medicines,” he said.

AstraZeneca shares rose 2.7% to £75.94 in early trading.

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