AstraZeneca could eventually release vaccines, no regrets about COVID, says its CEO



by Aimee Donnellan and Natalie Grover

LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca could eventually release vaccines, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday, in a significant turnaround for the company, one of the first to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, before to be overtaken by its competitors.

Production delays, studies by regulatory authorities following rare cases of serious side effects, and concerns about its relatively short shelf life compared to other vaccines have penalized the uptake of this vaccine.

As the pandemic entered its third year, mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are now mostly used for booster doses, at the expense of Pfizer’s serum, which still has not been approved in the United States. .

Listed in London, the laboratory intends to develop its portfolio of antibody therapies, in particular against COVID-19, the RSV respiratory virus and other viruses, Pascale Soriot said in an interview with Reuters Newsmaker on Tuesday.

But regarding the future of its COVID-19 vaccines business, he said, “I can’t be sure we’ll be there or not.”

He also said he was unsure whether AstraZeneca would expand its vaccine line to other infections, adding the company was looking into the matter.

Pascal Soriot said he did not regret the work done by the company with the University of Oxford to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, recalling that the group had delivered billions of doses and thus saved approximately six million lives worldwide.

This vaccine was AstraZeneca’s second largest source of revenue in 2021, with $3.9 billion in sales.

The group is also looking for targeted acquisitions, in particular small and medium-sized companies specializing in oncology and cardiovascular treatments, added Pascal Soriot.

“We are always on the lookout for external opportunities,” added the managing director.

In July, Pascal Soriot, 66, put an end to speculation about an upcoming retirement, indicating that he intended to work with the company’s new president-elect, Michel Demare, for many years.

During the 10 years or so of the French at its head, the profile of the Anglo-Swedish drug manufacturer has evolved considerably, its stock market price having quadrupled.

However, the chief executive warned that fewer innovative drugs would be developed in the future due to new US drug pricing laws.

Asked about inflationary pressures, Pascal Soriot said: “We have to be more innovative and more productive. We cannot expect our selling prices to increase.”

(Reporting Aimee Donnellan and Natalie Grover; French version Elitsa Gadeva, editing by Jean-Michel Bélot)

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