Corona vaccine maker astrazeneca raked in nearly $300 million with its vaccine in first quarter – but takes lower profit.
In the first three months, global sales of the covid 19 vaccine were around 275 million dollars (226.8 million euros), the british-swedish company announced today in cambridge. Astrazeneca had made it clear from the outset that it would not make a profit during the pandemic with the vaccine, which was developed under the leadership of researchers at oxford university. Core earnings per share, up 55 percent, were now $1.63, down 3 cents because of the pandemic vaccine, the company said.
While many pharmaceutical companies have recently reported sluggish business as people visit doctors less, astrazeneca’s business with cancer drugs and new medicines has brought rising sales. Between january and march, revenues climbed 15 percent year on year to around 7.3 billion dollars. Excluding the corona vaccination, the increase was still eleven percent. Profit exceeded expectations despite pandemic.
Group chief executive pascal soriot spoke of "solid progress" in the past three months. "New drugs have contributed to more than half of our sales, and all regions have grown encouragingly."For the full year 2021, astrazeneca expects sales to grow in the low tens of percent. The group expects earnings per share to be between 4.75 and 5.00 US dollars (currently 3.92 to 4.13 euros).
This outlook does not even include the corona vaccine, which is likely to continue to dominate the public perception of the company in the coming months at least. At a price of around 3.40 euros per dose, the vaccine is priced well below the mrna vaccines from biontech/pfizer and moderna. In addition, the agent can be transported and stored relatively easily, as refrigerator temperatures are sufficient. For example, it is particularly suitable for use in developing countries.
But despite its logistical and price advantages and proven efficacy, the relatively recent history of astrazeneca’s vaccine has been bumpy: rare blood clots associated with the vaccine have led several countries to officially recommend it only for older age groups, or even to stop using it altogether. This, in turn, has led to mistrust even among age groups for which the vaccine is recommended without restriction. At times, tens of thousands of vaccine doses were left lying around because burgers failed to keep their appointments. In germany, the permanent vaccination commission (stiko) recommends astrazeneca for people aged 60 and over – however, younger people can also be vaccinated with it following medical advice.
But astrazeneca itself has also repeatedly caused trouble: for example, the company repeatedly cut its delivery volumes to EU countries, while great britain continued to be supplied relatively quietly. The EU considers this a breach of contract and took astrazeneca to court. The company considers the complaint to be unfounded. The contract contains the controversial clause that the company must make "best reasonable efforts" to fulfill its commitments. Astrazeneca argues that it has complied; the EU commission sees it differently. Trial to be held at the end of may.