AstraZeneca to take profits from Covid vaccineon November 12, 2021 at 10:35 am

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The drugs giant signs new deals, but poorer countries will continue to get the vaccine at cost price.

AstraZeneca shot

Image source, Getty Images

AstraZeneca has started to move away from providing its Covid-19 vaccine to countries on a not-for-profit basis.

The drugs giant has signed a series of for-profit agreements for next year, and expects to make a modest profit from the vaccine this quarter, it said.

The company had previously said it would only start to make money from the vaccine when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic.

Its chief executive Pascal Soriot said the disease was becoming endemic.

The jab will continue to be supplied on a not-for-profit basis to poorer countries.

Mr Soriot had previously said, “We decided to provide it at no profit, because our top priority was to protect global health.”

He told the BBC he had “absolutely no regrets” about not making a profit when competitors had been, despite having to deal with political criticism in various countries.

He said the vaccine had saved a million lives around the world.

“I absolutely don’t regret it,” he said. “We are proud as a company of the impact we have had – we’ve saved millions of hospitalisations. The [AstraZeneca] team continues to do a stellar job.”

He said that the contracts that had been signed are for next year, and told reporters that the virus was now becoming endemic.

“We started this to help, but we said we would transition [to making a profit].”

Other vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna have been making profits from their vaccines.

A normal profit margin in the drugs industry is up to 20%, but Mr Soriot said AstraZeneca, which charges $5 per shot for the Covid vaccine at cost price, would not be making as much profit as that.

In its financial results, AstraZeneca said, “The company is now expecting to progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received.

It said: “Covid-19 vaccine sales in [the fourth quarter of 2021] are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders, with the large majority coming from pandemic agreements.”

By the end of September, AstraZeneca and its sub-licensees had supplied 1.5 billion doses.

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