- AstraZeneca to have insight into future of vaccines by end of year
- Executive Dobber says no decision has yet been made on future of COVID-19 vaccine
- Dobber says vaccine is not a distraction
LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca (AZN.L) is exploring options for the future of its COVID-19 vaccine and expects greater clarity on the matter by the end of 2021, said Thursday a senior executive at Reuters.
The examination of the vaccine’s future comes after a series of setbacks in its race to produce a blow to the world. Executives stressed that it was too early to say what the decision on the future of the vaccine would be.
AstraZeneca agreed to work with the University of Oxford on its COVID-19 shot last year despite no previous vaccine experience, taking over the project with a commitment not to make a profit during the coronavirus pandemic.
While a $ 39 billion deal to buy rare pharmaceutical company Alexion is much more integral to the company’s business strategy, the COVID-19 vaccine has quickly become the public face of the company’s efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A small group of people reporting to Mene (Pangalos, head of research) and I are thinking about: is this a sustainable company? AstraZeneca executive vice president and president of the BioPharmaceuticals business unit, said Ruud Dobber, referring to the vaccines business.
“We need to have this discussion with our management team and then with the AstraZeneca board. We’re exploring different options, but it’s far too early at this point to wrap up this (process). “
Dobber added that “before the end of the year we will have more clarity”.
“I hope that before the end of the year we will have a better idea of how to move forward in the next few years,” he said.
“If you ask me if the vaccine industry is a sustainable business for AstraZeneca for the next five or 10 years, this big strategic question is under discussion. “
MUCH TOO TT
AstraZeneca has been criticized by the European Union for providing the shots and is being pursued by the bloc. The vaccine has also faced age restrictions due to rare vaccine-related clots, and its application for approval in the United States is taking longer than expected.
Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said he has no regrets about getting involved in COVID-19 vaccines because the company has made a “huge difference”.
It has delivered a billion doses worldwide and is being celebrated by the UK government as a national pandemic achievement. Read more
Dobber said AstraZeneca’s “number one commitment” was to deliver hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine covered by current contracts.
“It’s not a distraction,” he said.
He added that the company will keep its commitment to provide a vaccine that is widely available and accessible. Soriot said the vaccine will always remain affordable for low-income countries, even as the company moves away from a nonprofit model.
Results released Thursday showed second-quarter sales of the vaccine more than tripled to $ 894 million from the first three months of the year. Read more
But, unlike rivals such as Pfizer (PFE.N), this remains a drag on earnings overall, and Dobber said if the vaccine industry is to be sustainable, the company should stop taking a loss.
“That’s not to say that in the future we won’t make some profit,” Dobber said. “It is not viable to do it without profit, but it is too early now to speculate on this. “
Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Jason Neely, Josephine Mason and Jan Harvey
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.