AstraZeneca sales rise 10% in a year dominated by the coronavirus

A box containing vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, on February 6, 2021, on the start of a vaccination campaign for health workers with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

Alain Jocard | AFP | Getty Images

AstraZeneca has reported a 10% rise in product sales for 2020, a year in which the drugmaker has featured prominently for its work developing a coronavirus vaccine, alongside the University of Oxford.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant reported product sales totaling $25.8 billion for 2020. For the fourth quarter, sales rose 12% to just over $7 billion. Total revenue came in at $26.6 billion for the year, and $7.4 billion for the quarter.

The earnings come as the company remains in the spotlight for its coronavirus vaccine, which is being heavily relied upon by the U.K., EU and others as they try to bring an end to the public health crisis caused by the pandemic.

However AstraZeneca has said it will not profit from the vaccine “during the pandemic,” and has pledged to make it available on a non-profit basis “in perpetuity” to low- and middle-income countries in the developing world.

In the results report, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the performance last year “marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth.”

“The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve,” he added.

The vaccine, developed with Oxford University, was hailed as a game changer, alongside the candidates from other pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and BioNTech, and Moderna.

Although clinical trials showed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had a lower efficacy rate than its rivals, the fact that it’s cheaper and easier to store and transport has proved a boon for countries like the U.K. where it has been rolled out since December. The rapid rollout of vaccines is seen as crucial to the reopening of economies severely damaged by lockdowns and job losses.

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