Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford receives Astrazeneca-Oxford Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine from pharmacist Anmol Thrush at Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 9, 2021.
Nathan Denette | Swimming pool | via Reuters
AstraZeneca is not yet sure whether a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine is needed for further protection from the virus, CEO Pascal Soriot told CNBC on Thursday.
Soriot told Squawk Box Europe that the company did not have an “exact answer” as to whether booster shots were required.
“This immunity has two dimensions – antibodies [which] decrease over time, but the second, very important dimension of vaccination is the so-called T cells. They tend to protect people from serious illness, but they also offer durability, “Soriot explained.
“With the technology we use, we have a very high production of T cells. We hope that we can have a permanent vaccine that will protect over a long period of time. So whether we need a third booster vaccination or not is not yet clear. “Only time can tell.”
T cells are a type of white blood cell that play various roles in the body’s defense against an invading virus. For example, they can attack the pathogen or help various white blood cells to produce antibodies.
Antibodies prevent viruses from entering cells, but they don’t last as long as T cells.
Soriot added that the only way to be sure if a booster dose is really needed is to watch if the vaccine’s effectiveness decreases over time.
“We know that [our vaccine] has a decrease in antibodies [over time] – We haven’t seen a drop in efficacy yet, but it’s a little early to judge, time will tell, and I hope the T cells provide this lasting, long-term protection. “
On Wednesday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’s “The Exchange” that the company was “very, very confident” that a third dose of its vaccine would provide sufficient immunity to protect against the faster-spreading Delta variant of Covid .
Bourla’s comments came after a study found that the effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine decreased an average of 6% every two months, and that the vaccine was most effective between a week and two months after receiving the second dose of vaccine.
Bourla also told CNBC on Wednesday that the vaccine’s effectiveness dropped to about 84% four to six months after the second dose.
Increase in vaccination income
AstraZeneca sales of its Covid-19 vaccine reached nearly $ 1.2 billion in the first half, the company said on Thursday.
The income from vaccine sales helped the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant increase its total revenue by 23% to $ 15.5 billion in the first half, AstraZeneca said in its earnings report.
Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine revenue more than tripled in the second quarter from the three months before.
Excluding vaccine sales, the company’s half-year profit increased 14% from the first half of 2020.
After acquiring US pharmaceutical company Alexion, AstraZeneca updated its forecast for the year to forecast total sales to grow by a low 20 percent. Revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine was not included in the guidelines in view of “increased risks and uncertainties from the effects of Covid-19, including the effects of potential new drugs for Covid-19 in clinical development”.
The company also indicated that fluctuations in its financial performance are expected to persist between quarters.
Nearly 4 billion shots of Covid-19 vaccines have been given globally, data collected by Bloomberg shows.
According to Our World in Data, vaccination programs have now been launched in 214 countries and territories, most of which have approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use.