Covid vaccine maker AstraZeneca doubles profit

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AstraZeneca, the British maker of a Covid vaccine with Oxford University, said Thursday its 2020 net profit more than doubled to $3.2 billion thanks to strong sales growth of cancer drugs.

Profit after tax, equivalent to 2.64 billion euros, soared 139% compared with 2019, the company said in a statement.

Revenue from cancer medicines, including Lynparza and Tagrisso, jumped 23 percent.

"Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth" in 2020, chief executive Pascal Soriot said.

"The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve," he added.

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The update comes one day after AstraZeneca said it plans to accelerate production of its Covid vaccine in the second quarter to support EU needs, in a deal with Germany's IDT Biologika.

The announcement follows controversy over deliveries of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University jab to the European Union, which had caused tensions between the bloc and the pharmaceutical company.

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Ahead of the EU's vaccine approval, AstraZeneca sparked fury in Brussels by announcing that it would miss its target of supplying the bloc with 400 million doses, owing to a shortfall at the firm's European plants.

While the UK government has vaccinated millions of Britons with the AstraZeneca vaccine since late last year, the company began shipping its jab to the EU only on Friday after the bloc's drug regulator took a comparatively much longer time to recommend its use.

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