April 30, 2020 / 8:08 AM / a month ago

AstraZeneca CEO says now is the time for taking COVID vaccine risk

FILE PHOTO: Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, attends an interview with Reuters in Shanghai, China November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brenda Goh

LONDON (Reuters) - The head of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said now was the time to take risks by betting on a COVID-19 vaccine and he should know by June or July whether one from its University of Oxford partner will be effective or not.

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said earlier on Thursday it would make and distribute globally the Oxford University’s vaccine, an announcement that comes before trials prove whether the shot is effective.

“It is definitely a risk to launch into the development of the vaccine but now is the time to take those kind of risks,” CEO Pascal Soriot told BBC radio on Thursday.

“This is a terrible crisis we’re facing and we need solutions and a vaccine is of course the number one tool we can bring to managing this.”

Soriot said they would have a good idea by June or July “of the direction of travel in terms of its potential efficacy.”

“We’ll continue working with the Oxford Vaccine Unit to bring it to patients and to regulatory authorities first of all as soon as possible,” he added.

“The agreement we have with the government and also with the Oxford group is we will be, for the period of the pandemic, we will be supplying the vaccine at cost.”

Reporting by Kate Holton and Sarah Young; editing by Paul Sandle

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