AstraZeneca not betting the farm on vaccine


Good afternoon,

Unless you were off the grid,  you know that Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine candidate is providing to be 90 percent effective in late-stage trials.

The stock market took off like a rocket on the news and ended the day with a more modest but still impressive 800 point gain.

The news was not as good for AstraZeneca investors after the street saw shares as an also-ran in the race for a vaccine.

But AstraZeneca is not betting the farm on a vaccine. The company’s CEO Pascal Soriot says its drug pipeline is the key to future success.


While there have been some big and small disappointments  AstraZeneca has scored some successes that have moved its stock price to near-record levels.

So far, this has been good news for  Delaware. While the days when the company employed 4,000 in Delaware are a distant memory, AZ’s headcount of 1,500 has remained stable in recent years as it unloaded two campuses in Fairfax.

One ended up being the home of a technology hub for JPMorgan Chase and the other is part of the Avenue North redevelopment. AZ, chemical company Solenis, and ChristianaCare have moved into space now owned by Delle Donne.

In the meantime,  Soriot says the need for Covid-19 vaccine is so vast that other offerings will be needed to meet the demand for billions of doses.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University have resumed trials on their vaccine candidate after a pause that apparently resulted when an individual who took the vaccine developed an unexplained illness.

The U.S. government through its Warp Speed program has invested more than $1 billion in the development and distribution of the vaccine, which has shown promising results but is not as far along as the Pfizer offering.

While the U.S. government investment is massive,  it amounts to only a fraction of  AZ’s annual sales.

Once the vaccine frenzy settles down, investors will be looking at early and late-stage trials moving through the AstraZeneca pipeline and to see whether Soriot sticks around.

While Soriot is doing well, his paycheck does not measure up to the more generous compensation packages of other drug company CEOs.

He appeared to be close to jumping ship a couple of years ago, but stuck around. Covid-19 may further extend his stay. 

I hope you had a chance to enjoy the final day of in this great run of wonderful weather. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.