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AstraZeneca – the comeback kid

After spending much of the past decade in the doldrums, AstraZeneca could finally be back in a position of strength, says former City analyst Robin Hardy
AstraZeneca – the comeback kid

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot must have relished taking the opportunity this week to suggest that the EU's earlier rejection of his company's Covid-19 vaccine could now be the reason the bloc is struggling with a devastating new surge in coronavirus infections and a higher hospitalisation rate than the UK. Soriot described the contrasting numbers as "interesting" although he agreed there was no proof that his theory was correct.

Whatever the strength or otherwise of the claims, the fact remains that the drug maker's vaccine is not being used for booster shots in the UK, and while AstraZeneca has been at the forefront of Covid vaccination in the UK, one is left with the impression that this treatment, and immunology in general, is not an area that appeals to the company. However it will continue to produce the vaccine and has confirmed that it will move to a new profit pricing model for the doses it manufactures once all current orders - being produced at zero profit - have been fulfilled.

Some observers feel that AstraZeneca only became involved in Covid vaccines to act as a trial runner and commercial conduit for Oxford University’s R&D. The AstraZeneca vaccine was never approved in the US and one school of thought is even that the Covid vaccine IP, and perhaps all interest in immunology, will be sold off as they are a distraction from core oncology and ‘orphan’ treatments.  

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