British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that its Covid vaccine generated $1.2 billion (1.0 billion euros) in sales in the first half of the year.
The group shipped about 319 million doses worldwide during the period, which included $572 million of sales in Europe and $455 million in emerging markets.
The jab is one of the world's leading vaccines and has been vital in Britain's speedy vaccination drive -- which enabled the economy to fully reopen this month.
"We have made dramatic progress with our Covid-19 vaccine Vaxzevria," said chief executive Pascal Soriot in comments accompanying the results.
"As of today, AstraZeneca and our partners have released one billion doses to more than 170 countries."
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
AstraZeneca developed the jab alongside the University of Oxford and sells it at cost without making a profit.
However, the jab has faced safety doubts and suspensions in some European nations over reports of rare blood clots.
The group added Thursday that net profit jumped 40 percent to $2.1 billion in the first half.
Total revenues increased by almost a quarter to $15.5 billion.
Stripping out the Covid vaccine, total revenues increased by 14 percent to about $14.4 billion.
"AstraZeneca has delivered another period of strong growth thanks to robust performances across all regions and disease areas," said Soriot.
Longer term growth would be supported by the purchase of US biotech company Alexion.
"Just last week, we completed the acquisition of Alexion, an enormous milestone that will enable us to enhance our pipeline in rare diseases and immunology," the CEO added.
As a result, the company lifted its full-year 2021 guidance.Revenues excluding vaccine sales are now forecast to grow by a low-twenties percentage this year.