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AstraZeneca profits fall, Covid vaccine sales slide

Covid-vaccine maker AstraZeneca said Friday that profits fell sharply in the first half on ballooning costs linked to its takeover of US biotech firm Alexion.

(FILES) This file photograph taken on March 11, 2021, shows vials of the AstraZeneca coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine and a figurine taken in a studio in Paris. – The European Commission is looking to launch legal action against AstraZeneca for underdelivering Covid-19 vaccine doses to the EU, hobbling the bloc’s early rollout of jabs, diplomats said April 22, 2021. The EU executive informed member state envoys of its plans on Wednesday, the diplomats told AFP, confirming information first published by the Politico website. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Covid-vaccine maker AstraZeneca said Friday that profits fell sharply in the first half on ballooning costs linked to its takeover of US biotech firm Alexion.

The pharmaceutical group added that sales of its Covid-19 vaccine Vaxzevria slumped 49 percent in the second quarter.

Net profit slumped 64 percent to $746 million compared with the first six months of last year, AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Operating expenses jumped 33 percent, “reflecting the addition of Alexion, and continued investment in new launches and the pipeline” of drugs, the group said.

That offset a 48-percent jump in revenue to more than $22 billion.

Revenue rose strongly thanks to sales of Alexion medicines.

The group said annual revenue from Covid-19 medicines is anticipated to be broadly flat compared with 2021.

Astra said the majority of Vaxzevria revenue this year was set to come from initial contracts struck as the pandemic took hold.

It added that the growth of its preventative antibody treatment Evusheld was offsetting an expected decline in Vaxzevria sales.

“We have made great progress in our efforts to combat Covid-19,” AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said.

“Vaxzevria is estimated to have saved more than six million lives during the first year of the roll-out, and Evusheld has protected hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised people, enabling them to return to a more normal life.”

Soriot added that “Evusheld continues to demonstrate activity against new variants”.

Widespread vaccination across the European Union, combined with the less deadly Omicron variant, has seen the levels of people being hospitalised or dying from Covid drop dramatically.

AstraZeneca has meanwhile faced vast costs following its $39-billion takeover of US group Alexion in 2021.

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