Pascal Soriot wouldn't 'do anything differently' in Covid-19 vaccine development — report
While Moderna and Pfizer have taken much of the limelight when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca’s boss is standing by his company’s development efforts.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot claimed the company’s Covid-19 vaccine has managed to save a million lives despite facing setbacks. Soriot addressed studies linking the vaccine to rare blood clots, but in looking back on the vaccine’s development, he told BBC: “I don’t think I would do anything differently from what we did.“
In 2021, the EMA found rare but dangerous blood clots linked to the vaccine, but European officials still touted its safety and efficacy. The shot was nonetheless rolled out across the globe and Soriot received a knighthood during the Queen’s Jubilee celebration last week.
Soriot did acknowledge that the initial rollout of the vaccine did come with setbacks, BBC’s report said.
“We decided to do it at no profit, we decided to partner with a network of partners around the world to scale up manufacturing. Despite the setbacks, we delivered three billion doses [of the vaccine] and saved a million lives,” he told BBC. “When you launch yourself in something like this, which is a huge undertaking, you have to accept that you will have setbacks.”
It is no secret that the AstraZeneca vaccine has had a tough time getting off the ground in the US. In 2021, AstraZeneca’s top researcher Mene Pangalos signaled that the company may cut away from submitting its Covid-19 vaccine to the US FDA for approval. The company has had to compete with Moderna and Pfizer, who have been ruling the roost in terms of getting jabs into arms, and the US has donated millions of AstraZeneca’s vaccines to other nations.
And in April of this year, the company saw its vaccine sales begin to diminish as the pandemic is entering a different phase where antivirals are becoming more of a mainstay.
Soriot claimed to analysts at the time that there is an overabundance of supply and still sticks to that line today, but with the pandemic entering a new phase, the CEO wants AstraZeneca to switch gears as well. In May, the company partnered with Vanderbilt University researchers to develop the long-acting antibody combo now known as Evusheld and obtained worldwide licenses to a suite of early-stage antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 from upstart RQ Biotechnology in a $157 million deal.
While Soriot still touts his vaccine and the side effects as being extremely rare, some shots have been on the shelf so long they are being destroyed. AstraZeneca, like its rivals, is also dealing with vaccine hesitancy in some nations, with individuals in developing countries refusing to take the shots.