AstraZeneca has announced that it will stop supplying its anti-coronavirus vaccine to countries on a non-profit basis in the coming period.
The giant pharmaceutical company has signed a series of profit-making contracts for the next year, and is expected to start generating modest income from vaccine sales, according to a statement issued in this regard.
The company had previously announced that it would not make a profit from the vaccine before Covid 19 turns into a non-epidemic disease.
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said the virus was beginning to turn into an endemic disease.
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However, the company confirmed that it will continue to supply doses of the vaccine to poor countries, on a non-profit basis.
“We decided to provide it without making a profit because our priority was protecting public health globally,” Soriot told the BBC.
“We never regret not turning a profit while our competitors did, even though we have had to deal with political criticism in many countries,” he added.
He stressed that the vaccine against the Corona virus, developed by Oxford University, saved millions of lives around the world.
Soriot continued, “I have no regrets at all, and we all feel proud of being the company that helped millions of people undergo treatment for the epidemic in hospitals.
The team (developer of the AstraZeneca vaccine) is still doing a great job.”
He stressed that the contracts signed will be implemented next year, suggesting that the virus has begun to turn into an endemic disease, which means that it is necessary to “learn how to coexist with it.”
He said: “We started it to help, but we said we would turn (to make profits from the vaccine), which we don’t see will bring us huge profits.”
He pointed out that the pricing of the vaccine will be divided into different price categories to ensure that it reaches all countries at an affordable price.
It is expected that the number of doses granted by AstraZeneca to the international “Kovax” initiative to deliver vaccines to poor countries will reach about 250 million doses.
It should be noted that other manufacturers of anti-epidemic vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, are making profits from vaccine sales.
The normal profit margin in the pharmaceutical sector is about 20 percent.
But Suryot emphasized that AstraZeneca, which sells the vaccine dose for $5 which is the cost price, will not make a profit margin of this size.
Nevertheless, Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said AstraZeneca’s decision to start making profits from the vaccine at a time when the virus is still a pandemic disease “shows how foolish it is to leave government-funded scientific projects to major pharmaceutical companies.”
He added, “Certainly, this moment would have come, which is exactly what called on public health experts to demand the waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.”
The company said in its latest financial results: “The company expects a transition to the vaccine to achieve modest profitability with the receipt of new orders.”
She added: “It is expected that sales of the anti-Covid 19 vaccine in the last quarter of 2021 will combine original epidemic agreements and new orders for vaccines.
But it is likely that most of them will come within the framework of epidemic agreements.”
It is expected that by the end of next September, the number of doses produced by AstraZeneca and the companies that obtained a license to produce it will reach 1.5 billion doses.
The company announced profits of $25.4 billion in the first nine months of this year.
But it confirmed the decline in its profits due to the provision of supplies of the anti-epidemic vaccine at cost.
AstraZeneca suggested that a potential profit increase in the fourth quarter of 2021 may offset the cost it incurs to develop an antibody treatment for Covid-19.
While it kept its annual profit estimates for the current year unchanged.
AstraZeneca shares fell about 4% at the close of trading on Friday.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson, which is also developing a vaccine against the Corona virus, announced that it will split into two companies.
The split process involves the consumer healthcare division, which makes products such as Baby Powder and Listerine, a separate company from the pharmaceutical and medical equipment division, which converts to another company.
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