Organization Questions 'No-Profit' Promise on Vaccine

AstraZeneca cuts deals with governments, partners around the world
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2020 5:28 PM CST
Organization Questions 'No-Profit' Promise on Vaccine
A researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.   (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)

AstraZeneca could not have bigger plans for its coronavirus vaccine. The company intends to make its vaccine available in every part of the world and expects to produce 3 billion doses to make that possible. The vaccine, developed by Oxford University, could turn out to be more practical, easier to ship, and much cheaper—$3 to $5 per dose—than competitors. Those selling points have helped AstraZeneca to strike deals with governments and manufacturing and distribution partners around the world, the Wall Street Journal reports. Analysts say the drugmaker is on track to become the No. 1 vaccine supplier to the developing world, able to serve populations that are poor, hard to reach, and lacking in health care access. AstraZeneca said Monday that once it receives regulatory approval, it can have millions of doses ready in the first quarter of next year.

As long as the coronavirus outbreak is considered a pandemic, the company has said it won't take a profit from vaccine sales. On Tuesday, Doctors Without Borders said it wants to see proof, per Reuters. The medical organization wants AstraZeneca to release its government contracts, concerned that they might hold the price down only until the company decides the emergency has ended. Doctors Without Borders "welcomes AstraZeneca’s commitment to sell the vaccine at a ‘no-profit’ price during the pandemic," the group said, "but the reality is that it's an empty promise unless we're able to substantiate these important claims with data." The company has said it would seek an international consensus before declaring the pandemic over. "From the outset, AstraZeneca’s approach has been to treat the development of the vaccine as a response to a global public health emergency, not a commercial opportunity," a spokesman said. (More AstraZeneca stories.)

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