AstraZeneca vaccine sales soar by more than $1BN as China eyes Covid jab – profit up 40%

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Last December Britain became the first country to approve the jab developed by scientists at Oxford University. In April the NHS stopped offering the shot to under 30s after it was linked to rare blood clots and by May the policy had been extended to all under 40s.

Germany has completely banned the AstraZeneca jab and has said it will donate all its remaining doses to less developed countries in August.

But despite restrictions, the drug firm has saw its profits boom over the past few moths.

Today it announced its sales for the vaccine topped $1.17billion in the first half of the year, and raised its forecast.

Around 319 million doses of the jab have been delivered to countries around the globe.

Sales represented $572million in Europe, and $455million in emerging countries, according to a statement from the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company.

Group sales over the period increased by 23 percent year-on-year to $15.5billion.

The firm said its net profit group share rose by 40 percent to $2.1billion.

The group emphasised the recent acquisition of US-based pharmaceutical firm Alexion which will support its longer-term growth.

In light of the purchase, AstraZeneca is raising its full-year earnings forecast.

CEO Pascal Soriot said “AstraZeneca delivered another period of strong growth thanks to robust performances across all regions and disease areas,” particularly in oncology.

Earlier this month the firm announced that it had been given the go-ahead from the UK for its $39billion acquisition of Alexion.

The biotech giant specialises in rare diseases and immunology.

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Mr Soriot said: “We continue to advance our portfolio of life-changing medicines with further significant progress across disease areas.”

He added: “Following the successful acquisition of Alexion, we are today updating our full-year 2021 guidance; our long-term goals to accelerate scientific discovery, invest for sustainable growth and deliver more benefits for patients remains unchanged.”

The group has faced both praise and criticism throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The shot had been originally billed as a cheaper alternative to the costly mRNA shots of Pfizer and Moderna.

But it is now being shunned by wealthy nations who can afford to fork out more cash for other jabs.

A controversy in Europe over suspected blood clotting led to the vaccine briefly being suspended, and some countries are still not rolling out the jab.

Sir Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D, said they are aiming to get the shot approved in China in early 2022.

According to the latest data from the UK government, 46.6 million Britons have received the first dose of the jab.

And 37.6 million people are fully inoculated, having received their second shot.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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