Global Economy

'We don't know': AstraZeneca CEO says 'unpredictable' coronavirus may require annual vaccinations

A future coronavirus vaccine might need to be administered every 12 months, the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca warned Thursday.

The British firm is just one company working on a potential coronavirus vaccine. It said Thursday that late-stage trials are taking place in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa and will soon start in the United States as well. These tests are aimed at verifying how the immune system responds to the vaccine. Earlier this month, its vaccine, which is being developed by Oxford University, produced a “promising” immune response in large, early-stage human trials. 

Because of the unpredictability of Covid-19, the pharmaceutical firm raised the possibility that more than one shot might be needed in the future, if their work does prove successful. 

“What we know is that most companies are targeting two injections for the initial vaccination and then our own assumption based on what we know from the technology we use with SARS 1 is that the immunity could last 12 months maybe 18 months,” Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“But the truth is that we don’t know, this virus is very unpredictable,” he added.

The company has reached deals to distribute its potential Covid-19 vaccine in different parts of the world. In June, for instance, it reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, supported by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses. It’s aiming to produce 2 billion in total, including 400 million doses for the U.S. and U.K. and 1 billion for low- and middle-income countries.

“We have set up supply chains independently from each other,” Soriot told CNBC, reaffirming a commitment to provide their work all over the world.

“If it does work, we will be able to start supplying the vaccine in October, November and our goal is to supply everyone around the world at the same time,” he said.

AstraZeneca reported Thursday higher revenues and product sales during the second quarter of the year. The firm registered growth in every single therapeutic area as well as geographic region. Shares were trading 2% higher in the early morning session on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index. 


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