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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine sales jump, but U.S. plans delayed



July 29 (Reuters) - Second-quarter sales of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine more than tripled to $894 million from the previous three months, but the drugmaker once again delayed its U.S. application for approval.

The vaccine has been touted as a major weapon against the pandemic because it is cheaper and easier to use than some rivals. AstraZeneca and its Indian manufacturing partner say they have supplied 1 billion doses to 170 countries so far.

But the shot has also faced setbacks, including disputes over data, production problems, and links to rare side-effects that have led some countries to stop or restrict its use. The United States has been particularly critical of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca said on Thursday it now expected to seek U.S. approval for the vaccine in the second half of this year. Previously, it had planned an application during the first half.

Its shares were down 1.4% in early trade.

The company said the shot, developed by Oxford University, brought in $1.17 billion in sales in the first six months of year, putting it among its best selling products, behind first-placed lung cancer drug Tagrisso on $2.54 billion.

The vaccine sales were based on deliveries of about 319 million doses, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said, giving an average price of about $3.7 per dose. Deliveries from its partner, India-based Serum Institute, were not included.

AstraZeneca has said it will not make a profit from the shot during the pandemic, and costs related to the vaccine shaved a cent off second-quarter earnings per share. That's down from 3 cents in the first quarter.

While AstraZeneca did not forecast vaccine sales for the year, rivals Pfizer (PFE.N), Moderna (MRNA.O)and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) have guided to $33.5 billion, $19.2 billion and $2.5 billion for their COVID-19 shots, respectively.

Elsewhere, AstraZeneca is hoping for a boost from the recent purchase of rare medicines business Alexion, to add to its fast-growing cancer medicines unit and newer drugs, such as treatments for diabetes and heart conditions.

Including Alexion, it now expects total revenue to increase by a low-twenties percentage this year, and core earnings of $5.05 to $5.40 per share. The forecasts do not include sales from the vaccine.

Total revenue of $8.22 billion for the three months to June, on a constant-currency basis, beat analysts' consensus forecast of $7.58 billion. But core earnings of 90 cents per share fell short of an estimated 92 cents.

Updated : 2021-09-19 17:28 GMT+08:00