Recall shots for all are a waste of taxpayers’ money, says AstraZeneca boss

AstraZeneca chief executive says widespread annual Covid-19 booster shots are “not a good use” of taxpayers’ money.

Pascal Soriot told The Telegraph that research suggests the vaccine offers healthy people protection against serious illness for a ‘long time’, meaning most won’t need an additional injection to avoid complications severe from the virus.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Soriot said: “People who are otherwise healthy – especially if they’re young, have been vaccinated, have already had a boost – revive them again, I’m not all just not sure that’s really a good use of resources.”

Research suggests that most healthy people’s immunity to serious diseases should last “over a year for sure”, he said, and could persist for three or four years.

Stimulating older people can be a good strategy given that they are more at risk, Mr Soriot added.

AstraZeneca has previously suggested that governments should wait for more data on the effectiveness of two doses before offering a third dose to the general public.

AstraZeneca is currently pressuring officials to spend more on Covid antibody treatments for immunocompromised people, such as those with blood cancers or transplant patients. The ministers have been criticized by major health charities for their decision not to order AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, which is available in many other countries. It has been approved for use in the UK, no orders have yet been placed.

Evusheld offers protection against serious diseases for people who cannot obtain this protection against Covid vaccines.

“All the other countries in Europe and the United States, and elsewhere, have decided that they have to allocate a budget for immunocompromised people,” Mr Soriot said. “The UK thinks it needs to allocate its budget elsewhere.”

Britain is preparing for its next Covid booster deployment, which is expected to start in the coming days. Nursing home residents and healthcare staff should be among the first to receive their next vaccinations, but vaccines should be offered to everyone over the age of 50.

The UK uses Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for its recall efforts, rather than AstraZeneca vaccines.

Interview: As Covid recedes, French-born executive eyes next breakthroughs

Pascal Soriot appears surprisingly rested for a man who has rarely left the spotlight in the past three years.

“I took a few weeks off this summer,” smiles the CEO of AstraZeneca. “My grandson came from Australia. We got the whole family together. I think you still want to spend more time with your family.

Soriot has had little time to relax in recent years. During the pandemic, his working days only got longer and his diary filled as AstraZeneca raced to develop and then manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19.

“It was the same for everyone, wasn’t it?” the 63-year-old shrugs when asked about his workload. “We were all locked up anyway.”

For some time, rumors have been circulating about his imminent retirement. The French-born leader has been at the head of AstraZeneca for ten years now.

Soriot dismisses discussions about his exit. He has not decided when he will leave and intends to work with the new president Michel Demaré for “many years to come”.

“There will be a time when someone else comes to run the business, but that’s not today.”

For now, Soriot seems invigorated after a much-needed downtime: “What we’re doing is exciting, it’s new science, new products. And yes, sometimes it’s stressful, but most of the time it’s exciting.

As the pandemic recedes, Soriot is keen to take on the next challenge. Cancer, he says, is a “very, very big problem” and society is already making inroads on new treatments. Cardiovascular diseases are also a major area of ​​attention.

Both are conditions where there is a significant need for advances, with patient backlogs currently at record highs.

For many, AstraZeneca remains a name irrevocably linked to the pandemic. The business was thrust into the spotlight in 2020 as households searched for any hope of ending lockdowns.

AstraZeneca entered 2020 as a relative minnow in vaccines, compared to GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer. His deal with the University of Oxford to develop and manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine has pushed him to the forefront of efforts to stop the virus in its tracks.

Recall shots for all are a waste of taxpayers’ money, says AstraZeneca boss

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