Covid-19 Vaccine, Variants and Cases: Live Updates on AstraZeneca Sales – The New York Times

Receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in Budapest.
Credit…Akos Stiller for The New York Times

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford brought in $275 million in sales from about 68 million doses delivered in the first three months of this year, AstraZeneca reported on Friday.

AstraZeneca disclosed the figure, most of which came from sales in Europe, as it reported its first-quarter financial results. It offers the clearest view to date of how much money is being brought in by one of the leading Covid vaccines.

AstraZeneca, which has pledged not to profit on its vaccine during the pandemic, has been selling the shot to governments for several dollars per dose, less expensive than the other leading vaccines. The vaccine has won authorization in at least 78 countries since December but is not approved for use in the United States.

The vaccine represented just under 4 percent of AstraZeneca’s revenue for the quarter; it was nowhere near the company’s biggest revenue generator. By comparison, the company’s best-selling product, the cancer drug Tagrisso, brought in more than $1.1 billion in sales in the quarter.

AstraZeneca has said it is planning to seek emergency authorization for its vaccine to be used in the United States, even as it has become clear that the doses are not needed. The Biden administration said this week that it would make available to the rest of the world up to 60 million doses of its supply of AstraZeneca shots, pending a review of their quality.

If the company does win authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it could help shore up confidence in a vaccine whose reputation been hit by concerns about a rare but serious side effect involving blood clotting. The F.D.A.’s evaluation process is considered the gold standard globally.

Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine was authorized for emergency use at the end of February, reported last week that its vaccine generated $100 million in sales in the United States in the first three months of the year. The federal government is paying the company $10 a dose. Like AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson has pledged to sell its vaccine “at cost” — meaning it won’t profit on the sales — during the pandemic.

Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna cost more, and neither company has said that it will forego profits. Pfizer has said that it expects its vaccine to bring in about $15 billion in revenue this year; Moderna said it anticipates $18.4 billion in sales.

Both companies are scheduled to report their first-quarter results next week.

The biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions, in Baltimore, Md., threw out millions of vaccine doses at its manufacturing plant over concerns of contamination.
Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Executives of Emergent BioSolutions, the vaccine manufacturer that was forced to discard up to 15 million doses because of possible contamination, reported a shake-up in leadership on Thursday and offered the most fulsome defense yet of the company’s performance.

While announcing the high-level personnel changes and taking responsibility for the ruined doses, executives nonetheless forecast record revenues this year of nearly $2 billion.

Robert Kramer, the chief executive, speaking on a call with investors, said that one senior vice president overseeing manufacturing would depart the company while another executive would go on leave. A third official, Mary Oates, who recently joined Emergent after a long tenure at Pfizer, is now leading the company’s response to a recent federal inspection that found serious flaws at the Baltimore facility that produced the vaccines.

The call on Thursday came at a tumultuous time for Emergent, a once-obscure federal contractor that has built a lucrative business selling biodefense products to the government. Production at the company’s Baltimore plant was suspended this month after the discovery that workers had potentially contaminated millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Addressing these setbacks, Mr. Kramer offered a vigorous defense of the company on Thursday.

He took “full responsibility” for the manufacturing problems, acknowledging that the “loss of a batch for a viral contamination is extremely serious, and we treated it as such,” but he also said that Emergent had taken on a “herculean task” in a crisis.

Emergency workers at the scene of the stampede at the mass religious gathering at Mount Meron in northern Israel early Friday.
Credit…Reuters

A stampede early Friday at a mountainside religious celebration in Israel that drew tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews left at least 44 people dead and scores more injured.

By some estimates, about 100,000 people were crammed together late Thursday to celebrate a holiday on Mount Meron in northern Israel, despite warnings from the authorities about the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The deadly crush began around 1 a.m. on Friday, as celebrants began to pour out of a section of a compound where festivities were being held.

The pilgrimage was held despite warnings from Israeli health officials that it could become a Covid-19 superspreader event. That is what appears to have happened in India in April when a vast Hindu celebration was permitted to take place.

Last year, the Israeli authorities arrested over 300 people at the Lag b’Omer celebration after large crowds gathered in defiance of coronavirus restrictions. Some were reported to have thrown stones and other objects at police officers who tried to control the crowd.

About 56 percent of the Israeli population had been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 as of Thursday, according to a New York Times database, and the country’s swift inoculation campaign and plummeting infection rates have allowed it to take rapid steps back toward normalcy. Earlier this month, Israel lifted its outdoor mask mandate and fully reopened schools for the first time since September.

But there are still restrictions in place, and the gathering at Mount Meron on Thursday, though smaller than similar ones in recent years, was described as the largest in Israel since the start of the pandemic.

Google’s new meeting rooms are designed to put virtual attendees on the same footing as in-person attendees.
Credit…Cayce Clifford for The New York Times

Before the pandemic, Google’s sprawling campus of airy, open offices and whimsical common spaces set a standard for what an innovative workplace was supposed to look like.

Now, the company is creating a workplace for the Covid era, with a concept perhaps best described as Ikea meets Lego.

Instead of rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms, Google is designing “Team Pods.” Chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters can be wheeled into various arrangements, and in some cases rearranged in a matter of hours. It is building outdoor work areas to respond to concerns about the coronavirus.

At its Silicon Valley headquarters, it has converted a parking lot and lawn area into a “camp,” with clusters of tables and chairs under open-air tents. The area is a fenced-in mix of grass and wooden deck flooring about the size of four tennis courts with Wi-Fi throughout.

David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said that while moving more than 100,000 employees to virtual work last year was daunting, “now it seems even more daunting to figure out how to bring them back safely.”

People getting vaccinated at a government-run hospital in Mumbai this month.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

India is the world’s leading producer of vaccines, but over the past week it has also been the global leader in Covid-19 deaths, and it is not at all clear that the country can vaccinate itself out of the crisis.

As of Thursday, about 26 million people — 1.8 percent of India’s population — had been fully vaccinated. That is a better rate than some mostly poor countries, but it is still among the world’s lowest.

As a critical supplier in the global vaccination effort, India’s struggles to roll out enough vaccine for its own people are being closely watched abroad. Although Indian drug manufacturers produce tens of millions of doses a month, that is a fraction of the demand in a country where 940 million adults will be eligible for shots starting on Saturday.

Many Indians who have received first doses report delays in getting their second, and state health officials say their appeals for fresh vaccine supplies are going unanswered.

Balbir Singh Sidhu, the health minister in Punjab State, said: “The shortage is everywhere.”

Patients in tents outside Kennedy Hospital in Bogotá, Colombia, this month. Colombia has been able to issue a first vaccine to just 6 percent of its population.
Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

With vaccinations mounting in some of the world’s wealthiest countries and people envisioning life after the pandemic, the crisis in Latin America is taking an alarming turn for the worse, potentially threatening the progress made well beyond its borders.

Last week, Latin America accounted for 35 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the world, despite having just 8 percent of the global population, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

The length of the region’s epidemic makes it even harder to fight. It has already endured some of the strictest lockdowns, longest schools closures and largest economic contractions in the world.

And if Latin America fails to contain the virus — or if the world fails to step in to help it — new, more dangerous variants may emerge, said Dr. Jarbas Barbosa of the Pan-American Health Organization.

“This could cost us all that the world is doing” to fight the pandemic, he said.

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Covid-19 Vaccine, Variants and Cases: Live Updates on AstraZeneca Sales – The New York Times

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