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AstraZeneca sees USD4B in COVID vaccine sales as revenue soars

LONDON (AP) – AstraZeneca recorded a big jump in revenue yesterday as it begins to take a profit from its coronavirus vaccine for the first time.

The company recorded full-year revenues of USD37.4 billion, an increase of 38 per cent from the year before at constant exchange rates. Part of the boost came from USD4 billion in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford.

Despite rising revenue, AstraZeneca reported a pre-tax loss of USD265 million due to costs from its purchase of United States (US) drug company Alexion Pharmaceuticals and new drug research.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said in November it would begin to take a “modest” profit from the COVID-19 shot, which it had been providing “at cost” – around USD2 to USD3 – following an agreement with Oxford. Other COVID-19 vaccine producers, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have been booking hefty profits on their shots all along.

In the three months to September, the company said revenue jumped by about 50 per cent, to a record USD9.9 billion. The increase was due to sales of more than USD1 billion in COVID-19 vaccines and the inclusion for the first time of some USD1.3 billion worth of revenue from its rare disease business unit following the recent acquisition of Alexion.

The AstraZeneca logo displayed on its building in Cambridge, England. PHOTO: AFP

AstraZeneca forecast total group sales to rise by a “high teens percentage” in 2022, but said COVID-19 revenues would decline by “a low-to-mid twenties percentage”.

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said AstraZeneca had “delivered on our promise of broad and equitable access to our COVID-19 vaccine with 2.5 billion doses released for supply around the world”.

“AstraZeneca continued on its strong growth trajectory in 2021, with industry-leading R&D (research and development) productivity, five of our medicines crossing new blockbuster thresholds, and the acquisition and integration of Alexion,” he said.

Soriot said the company would raise the dividend to shareholders by 10 cents to USD2.90, the first increase in a decade.

AstraZeneca shares were trading about three per cent higher at GBP8.62 on the London Stock Exchange yesterday morning.

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