AstraZeneca: Vaccine against new COVID-19 variants could be ready in six months

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Jae Young Ju
© GettyImages/Jae Young Ju

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Announcing its financial results for 2020, AstraZeneca has said that it could take between six and nine months to develop shots that are effective against new variants of COVID-19.

In collaboration with the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca is focused on adapting C19VAZ to new disease strains if required and hopes to reduce the time needed to reach production at scale to between six to nine months, by utilizing existing clinical data and optimizing its established supply chain,”​ the company said this morning.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine (C19VAZ) (SARS-CoV-2), developed jointly with scientists at the University of Oxford, remains effective against the B.1.1.7 Kent variant, it said. 

The University of Oxford, however, recently released data that showed the vaccine had limited efficacy against mild-moderate disease caused by the B.1.351 South African variant. That data prompted South Africa to suspend the use of the vaccine in its national campaign.

Financial performance for 2020

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, reported that 2020 delivered strong, and diversified double-digit revenue growth of 10% for the pharma group, with strong profitability and cash generation. Ongoing spend bolstered its oncology and biopharma therapy businesses.

In oncology, it delivered a 24% revenue increase, its cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM) division saw 9% revenue growth, while its respiratory and immunology business remained stable.

Overall, new medicines grew by 33%.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, commented: “The performance last year marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve, while the proposed acquisition of Alexion is intended to accelerate our scientific and commercial evolution even further.”

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