AstraZeneca expects ‘minimal’ sales of Covid vaccine this year

Drugs giant AstraZeneca thinks that this year it will only sell a small amount of the Covid-19 vaccine which shot the company into the limelight during the pandemic.

The Cambridge-based business said it expects revenue from the vaccine, now called Vaxzevria, to hit “minimal” levels.

It follows a 94% drop in Vaxzevria sales in the last quarter of 2022.

A year earlier the business sold 1.8 billion US dollars’ (£1.5 billion) worth of Vaxzevria, but in the final three months of last year it sold just 95 million dollars’ (£78.7 million) worth.

AstraZeneca said it expects sales of Covid-19 medicines – it has three others – to “decline significantly” this year, mainly driven by the vaccine.

The fall comes despite a big jump in sales of one of the Covid medications, Evusheld.

The drug helps prevent coronavirus and is recommended in the UK for people who cannot have vaccines, or who are unlikely to mount an immune response to a vaccination.

Sales of the drug – which was approved in the UK in March last year – rose from 135 million dollars (£111.8 million) in the final quarter of 2021 to 734 million dollars (£608 million) a year later.

AstraZeneca said revenue increased by 25% to 44.4 billion dollars (£36.8 billion) when accounting for currency fluctuations. On an actual basis it rose 19%.

Revenue in the final quarter rose by just 1%, due to the fall in Vaxzevria sales, it added.

But the UK’s biggest company still swung back into profit last year.

The business had lost 265 million dollars (£219.5 million) before tax in 2021; last year it made 2.5 billion dollars (£2.1 billion).

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said: “2022 was a year of continued strong company performance and execution of our long-term growth strategy.

“We made excellent pipeline progress, with a record 34 approvals in major markets, and we are initiating new late-stage trials for high-potential medicines.”

He added: “In 2023, we expect to see another year of double-digit revenue growth at CER (constant exchange rates), excluding our Covid-19 medicines.

“We will continue to invest behind our pipeline and recent launches while continuing to improve profitability.

“We plan to initiate more than 30 Phase III trials this year, of which 10 have the potential to deliver peak year sales over one billion dollars.”

He said the business is on a path to deliver at least 15 new medications before the end of the decade.