AstraZeneca sells $2.2bn of Covid vaccine in first nine months

Drugmaker says it expects to transition to ‘modest profitability’ as it receives new orders

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First published on Fri 12 Nov 2021 03.40 EST

AstraZeneca has sold more than $2.2bn (£1.64bn) of its Covid-19 vaccine in the first nine months of this year, as the drugmaker said it is set to move to “modest profitability” as new orders are received.

Britain’s biggest drugmaker has so far promised to provide the jab, which it developed with Oxford University, on a not-for-profit basis through the pandemic.

“The company is now expecting to progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability,” it said in a trading update. “Covid‑19 vaccine sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders, with the large majority coming from pandemic agreements.”

Earlier this week the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker confirmed it would create a vaccines unit as it planned for the future of its coronavirus shot beyond the pandemic. The company said the reorganisation would bring together people who had previously been based in different parts of the business, and will be dedicated to the Covid-19 vaccine and tweaked versions to deal with new variants of Sars-CoV-2.

AstraZeneca said it intends to start including the revenue and profit of sales of the pandemic vaccine in its future financial guidance and in results on Friday there would be a “limited profit contribution” in the final three months of the year. The company said the contribution would offset costs relating to its long-acting antibody combination AZD7442, and has not changed its earnings guidance for investors.

Sales of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine have increased each quarter this year, breaking $1bn in the three months to the end of September. This compares with $894m in the previous three-month period and $275m in the first quarter this year.

“In general, AstraZeneca continues to recognise the heightened risks and uncertainties from the effects of Covid-19,” the company said. “Variations in performance between quarters can be expected to continue.”

AstraZeneca’s total revenues including Alexion, the US drugmaker for rare disease acquired for $39bn earlier this year, grew 32% to $25bn in the first nine months. Third-quarter revenue rose by 50% to $9.8bn, boosted by the addition of Alexion.

“Our broad portfolio of medicines and diversified geographic exposure provides a robust platform for long-term sustainable growth,” said Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive. “We expect a solid finish to the year.”

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