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Covid-19 vaccine maker Oxford Biomedica pauses production as AstraZeneca partnership reviewed

·2-min read
A woman in the Oxford Biomedica lab (Oxford Biomedica)
A woman in the Oxford Biomedica lab (Oxford Biomedica)

The chief executive of Oxford Biomedica has hailed an “exceptional” year as a deal to manufacture Britain’s Covid-19 vaccine boosted revenues and led to a string of deals.

Revenues jumped 63% last year to £142 million, as a partnership with AstraZeneca led to surging business. Operating profits rose from £7.3 million to £35.9 million in 2021.

Chair and interim CEO Dr Roch Doliveux said: “I am delighted with our performance in 2021 which was a true testament to the hard work of all our employees.

“2021 financial performance was exceptional due to large-scale manufacture of the adenovirus-based Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and we have successfully manufactured over 100 million doses since the partnership began. “

Analysts at Peel Hunt called it a “transformative year, where Oxford Biomedia’s capabilities were really put in the international shop window.”

The company, which began as an Oxford University spin-out in 1995, signed two major partnerships last year and India’s vaccine manufacturing giant the Serum Institute invested £50 million in the business.

However, a review of Oxford Biomedica’s deal with AstraZeneca cast a pall over the share price. Oxford Biomedica has paused vaccine production and warned revenues this year would be lower than last as it holds talks with AstraZeneca about “a potential extension of the supply agreement.”

Shares in the FTSE 250-listed business fell 54p to 574p.

Dr Doliveux said: “2022 will be another important year as we execute on our strategy to become a global viral vector leader, providing life-changing therapies and vaccines to patients.

“Our recently launched Boston, US-based Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) manufacturing and innovation business, brings a fully established and operating ‘Plug & Play’ platform, four patent families, and the full breadth of AAV capabilities and capacity into Oxford Biomedica.

“This lays the foundation to increase our presence in the strategically important US market and build our global footprint.”

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