AstraZeneca to set up division for vaccines and antibody therapies

Written by on November 9, 2021

November 9, 2021

By Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) -AstraZeneca is creating a separate division for vaccines and antibody therapies, the drugmaker said on Tuesday, to focus on its COVID-19 shot and the development of coronavirus treatments after a series of setbacks during the pandemic.

Reuters reported in July that the Anglo-Swedish company was exploring options for its vaccine business and expected to have greater clarity on the matter by the end of 2021.

The new division, which will be led by executive Iskra Reic, will combine research and development, manufacturing, commercial and medical teams, a company spokesperson said.

“The team will be dedicated to our COVID-19 vaccine, our long-acting antibody combination and our developmental vaccine addressing multiple variants of concern, as well as to our existing portfolio for respiratory viral disease,” the spokesperson said.

The decision to set up a new business comes after a tumultuous 18 months for the drugmaker, which developed its COVID-19 vaccine in conjunction with Oxford University.

Production problems forced the company to cut deliveries to the European Union this the year, prompting the bloc to launch a legal challenge. Governments have also restricted its use among certain age groups due to links to rare blood clots and its application for U.S. approval is taking longer than expected.

But the positive results from trials of its antibody cocktail as a preventative shot against COVID-19 have given the company a major boost, potentially positioning it as a supplier of both COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

The creation of the separate vaccines division was first reported by the Financial Times.

The newspaper said it was a sign the drugmaker would continue to market the vaccine beyond the pandemic period.

The company has pledged to supply its vaccines at cost while there is still a pandemic. That not-for-profit strategy and challenges with the vaccine had fueled speculation about whether the company would want to keep the business in the long term.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Mark Potter and David Clarke)

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