AstraZeneca said on Thursday it is focusing on adapting the coronavirus vaccine for new viral variants with its development partner Oxford university, hoping to reduce the time needed to reach production at scale to between six and nine months.
The announcement came after a preliminary and limited study in South Africa last week showed reduced efficacy against milder disease caused by the variant first discovered in that country. The study was not designed to ascertain the effect on more severe disease, AstraZeneca said, which is the main target for vaccination campaigns.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended using the vaccine in all adults, including in places where new variants may already be in circulation. Regulatory decisions still rest with national health authorities. South Africa has delayed its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Large parts of the globe, including lower-income countries, have banked on the vaccine to emerge from the pandemic.
AstraZeneca on Thursday posted a 10 per cent increase in total revenue — at constant exchange rates — to $26.6bn. Core earnings per share rose 18 per cent to $4.02. New medicines represented more than half of total revenue, said the drugmaker.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive, said he was “confident” the company would continue to deliver “more progress for patients and sustained, compelling results”.
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