AstraZeneca warns Covid sales will tumble in 2022 after £3bn jab boost in 2021

The drugs giant forecast total group sales to rise in 2022, but said Covid-19 revenues would fall by up to a quarter.

10 February 2022

AstraZeneca has revealed it made 4 billion dollars (£3 billion) in sales from its Covid-19 vaccine last year, but said coronavirus-related revenues could plunge by up to a quarter in 2022.

The group, which recently revealed it has started to make a “modest” profit on the vaccine, notched up 1.76 billion dollars (£1.3 billion) in sales from the Covid jab in the final quarter alone, with more than 2.5 billion doses released for supply around the world over the year as a whole.

It warned that sales of Covid products would pull back sharply this year on lower take-up of its vaccine, which will be only partly offset by growth in sales of its Evusheld antibody drug.

The group is forecasting “a low-to-mid 20s percentage” decline in coronavirus-related revenues in 2022, though it said total group sales are set to rise by a “high teens percentage” this year following a 38% surge in 2021.

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot (PA)

AstraZeneca said in November it would start to make a profit from the Covid vaccine in 2022 from countries that could afford it, having previously produced the jab only at cost.

It said the vaccine is still “highly effective” against all Covid variants in preventing hospital admissions and deaths, revealing that it had decided to discontinue another version of the jab being developed as it was found to be no more effective.

The jab is not being used in the UK for booster shots and it has been impacted by negative publicity surrounding blood clot fears.

Professor Sir John Bell – one of the Oxford University vaccine developers – claimed earlier this week that politicians and scientists “probably killed hundreds of thousands of people” by damaging the reputation of the jab.

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot said the vaccine has had a “welcome reception” in many countries around the world and the group stressed it is up to governments globally to “make their own decisions about their boosting strategies”.

Asked whether the group regrets how the publicity surrounding the jab had been handled, Mr Soriot said: “It’s hard to regret anything when you’ve delivered 2.6 billion doses and saved a million lives around the world and enabled economies in many countries to restart.”

AstraZeneca’s results showed it swung to a bottom line pre-tax loss of 265 million dollars (£196 million) for last year, against profits of 3.92 billion dollars (£2.9 billion) in 2020.

This came in spite of revenues jumping by 38% at constant exchange rates to 37.4 billion dollars (£27.6 billion) as it was hit by costs of its 39 billion dollar (£28.8 billion) mega deal to buy US drug company Alexion Pharmaceuticals, as well as new drug research.

It saw investment in research and developments jump by a third to 8 billion US dollars (£5.9 billion).

Shares in the group lifted by 4% after the results, as it also upped its annual shareholder dividend payout to 2.90 US dollars (£2.14) a share – its first year-on-year rise in a decade.

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