Astrazeneca boss pins hopes on firm’s vaccine jab and antibody treatment to turn the tide in Covid fight
British pharmaceuticals giant Astrazeneca warned that sales had been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic as it offered fresh hope that a vaccine could be near.
The crisis has made patients more reluctant to visit doctors’ surgeries and hospitals with non-Covid related illnesses, leading to lower demand for some medicines.
But Astra boss Pascal Soriot said the firm’s potential jab for the disease, could soon help turn the tide if trial results are positive.
Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot said the firm’s potential Covid jab could soon help turn the tide if trial results are positive
He also touted a ‘very important’ antibody drug, AZD7442, which is being tested and could potentially treat coronavirus symptoms in patients.
‘As much of the world goes back into lockdown, my hope is that science will help humanity fight back against this virus and put an end to this terrible pandemic,’ Soriot said.
Astra has carried out large-scale human trials of the potential vaccine it has jointly developed with Oxford University. But for now the drug has not been approved by regulators and does not contribute to sales.
Soriot said the firm would seek regulatory approval in ‘as many countries as possible’ if the drug was found to be successful.
It is keeping huge stores of the vaccine in a frozen state to prolong its shelf life, ready to be thawed out and deployed swiftly.
Astra said it was making progress on its pipeline of other drugs, with cancer treatment lynparza and diabetes medicine forxiga both cleared for wider uses in Europe yesterday.
However, it reported annual sales growth of just 3 per cent in the third quarter, compared with growth of 11 per cent in the second.
Revenues of £5billion in the three months to September 30, compared with £4.9billion a year earlier. That was partly due to lower demand for some drugs, with sales of its inhalers particularly weak in China.
Quarterly profits more than doubled from £313million to £653million, but the earnings per share, a measure closely watched by some investors, was below what analysts predicted.
Research and development costs jumped 11 per cent to £1.2billion, as more projects moved into the final stage of testing on humans.
Astra expects total revenue in 2020 to rise by a high single-digit to a low double-digit percentage. Shares rose 0.2 per cent, or 18p, to 8529p.