AstraZeneca under fire for raking in millions with Covid-19 jab while keeping tech secret

VACCINE firms have come under fire after AstraZeneca revealed it beat sales and profit expectations for its first quarter.

Julia Hartley-Brewer clashes with Layla Moran on vaccines

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Sales of the Vaxzevria Covid-19 jab raked in $1.145 billion (£910m) while its Evusheld antibody treatment earned $469 million (£373.67). AstraZeneca said its vaccine contracts helped contribute to a total revenue increase of 60 percent for the first three months of the year, with sales of its antibody treatment expected to grow further. CEO Pascal Soriot said “2022 has started strongly for AstraZeneca”, adding: “Our investments in pioneering science give us confidence of further advances in the years to come.” The Anglo-Swedish company’s results come as focus grows on the pharmaceutical industry’s handling of vaccine technology following interventions by Oxfam at two major annual general meetings this week.

At the AGM’s of both Modern and Pfizer the charity filed resolutions for the firms to study the feasibility of transferring vaccine technology around the world to build up capacity in less developed countries.

Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who introduced the resolution at Moderna’s AGM, noted that a third of the world had not been vaccinated which he branded a “failure of humanity”.

Both resolutions fell with support from 27 percent of Pfizer shareholders and 29 percent of independent Moderna shareholders.

Oxfam however reported that it was “pleased” to see a significant number of shareholders back the plans.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine helped increase revenues 60 percent (Image: Getty)

Evusheld

Antibody treatment Evusheld is expected to see sales growth this year (Image: Getty)

Julia Kosgei, Policy Advisor to campaign group the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said pharmaceutical companies had “exploited a global health crisis for their own gain”.

She added: “Governments must take strong action to ensure pharmaceutical companies transfer the technology needed for global south countries to make vaccines and treatments for themselves, including waiving intellectual property rules.”

An industry source said: “AstraZeneca has done more than any other vaccine manufacturer to make wide vaccine access a reality, and has shared the (intellectual property rights) with more than 20 partners.

“Over 2.9bn doses have been supplied globally and approximately two thirds of those doses have gone to developing countries.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus branded lack of vaccination in developing countries a “failure” (Image: Getty)

Express.co.uk has contacted Moderna and Pfizer for comment.

While AstraZeneca has enjoyed a strong first quarter it has however warned it expects sales of its jab to decline later in the year, though it hopes this may be offset by new therapies for kidney disease and rare conditions.

Another concern are company debt levels which have continued to increase.

Laura Hoy, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “We’re slightly concerned that the group could be overshooting just how difficult it will be to dig itself out from under its mounting debt pile

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Moderna

Oxfam filed resolutions at Moderna and Pfizer’s AGMs this week (Image: Getty)

“The group announced plans to build a new research and development centre alongside results.

“This will only increase the ballooning demands on the group’s cash.”

AstraZeneca’s share price has dipped over 0.5 percent in early trading following today’s results, although it remains up over 20 percent on the start of the year.

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William Murphy

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