LONDON: AstraZeneca, the UK-headquartered biopharmaceutical company behind the manufacture of the Oxford University developed COVID-19 vaccine, said on Friday that it plans to start earning a "modest" profit from the doses being sold as part of new orders.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as part of an agreement, has until now been sold on a not-for-profit basis.
"The company is now expecting to progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received," notes the AstraZeneca's latest financial results update.
"COVID-19 vaccine sales in Q4 2021 are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders, with the large majority coming from pandemic agreements," it said.
In its latest financials, the Anglo-Swedish biopharma major AstraZeneca said it had supplied USD 2.22 billion worth of the drug, representing delivery of 580 million doses, in the first nine months of 2021.
When including partners such as SII sub-licensed to make the vaccine, it has released 1.5 billion doses for supply in more than 170 countries, the company said.
"We are proud as a company of the impact we have had, we've saved millions of hospitalisations. The (AstraZeneca) team continues to do a stellar job," AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told the BBC.
The company had said it would only start to make money from the vaccine when COVID-19 was no longer a pandemic.
It has now revealed a series of for-profit agreements for next year, which are likely to have "limited profit contribution".
"The virus is becoming endemic which means we have to learn to live with it. We started this to help, but we said we would transition (to making a profit on the vaccine). It's not something we see as a huge profit-earner," said Soriot.
The company plans to have tiered pricing for countries to make sure the vaccine remains affordable for all.