AstraZeneca’s path to getting COVID-19 vaccines approved has not been a smooth one. With the announcement of a mid-April filing for US approval in March, that schedule was postponed to mid-May, with the company citing the massive data set as the cause.
The drug giant made $ 275 million in revenue in the first three months of the year from sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, which was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford. The company shipped 68 million cans worldwide in the first quarter, well below target.
In Europe, tens of millions of cans of AstraZeneca deficits have sparked political tension. This week the European Union sued the company for failing to fulfill its vaccination contract with the block. AstraZeneca has announced that it will meet the delivery commitments.
Most of AstraZeneca’s vaccine sales for the quarter, $ 224 million, were in Europe, with $ 43 million in emerging markets. The numbers pale in comparison to multi-billion dollar sales projections from other vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.
Developing a safe and effective vaccine at breakneck speed to stop a global pandemic is no easy task. When the pandemic began, over 100 vaccine candidates began the race to develop. That list was trimmed later in the year as efforts ceased.
Only three COVID-19 vaccines are currently approved for use in the U.S., with AstraZeneca hoping to be the fourth. The vaccine is already approved for use in at least 78 countries. The Biden government has promised to make the 60 million doses earmarked for the US available to the rest of the world pending quality testing.
Former advisor to the Biden team, Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explained the importance of FDA approval for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, even if it is not used in the United States. “If it weren’t authorized, it would be a blow to the whole world, not just the US.”
The AstraZeneca shot is much cheaper than competing vaccines and easier to transport and store. The company’s initial pledge for three billion doses this year was mostly made for poorer countries that cannot transport or afford the more expensive cold store vaccines.
The reputation of the AstraZeneca shot has scored some hits as it was reported that the information the company provided on its clinical trials was out of date and provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data. Although the AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to blood clots in Europe and the UK, these cases are still rare. Health officials still believe that the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the low risk of blood clots.