Drugs giant AstraZeneca has revealed sales of its Covid-19 vaccine soared to $1.2bn (€1bn) in the first half as the global jab programme rolled out at pace.
The group, which developed the jab with Oxford University, said vaccine sales more than tripled between the first and second quarters, rocketing from $275m (€231.5m) to $894m (€753m) in the three months to June 30.
It delivered about 319 million doses worldwide in the first half as the fight against Covid-19 picked up pace, but Astra pledged not to make a profit from the jab during the pandemic.
AstraZeneca supplied more than 80 million doses of the vaccination in the six months to more than 125 countries through the Covax global access initiative, making up more than 90% of Covax supply.
It also said that it had delayed application for approval of the jab in the US until the final six months of 2021, having originally hoped to put this through in the first half.
The group said that total half-year sales increased by 23% to $15.5bn (€13bn).
Without taking the Covid vaccine into account, sales rose 9% at constant currency to $14.4bn (€12bn).
AstraZeneca said, despite the sales boost, pre-tax profits fell 25% to $2.4bn (€2bn) in the first half.
Interim operating profits were 21% lower at $3bn (€2.5bn), but on an underlying basis, earnings were 13% lower at $4.6bn (€3.8bn).
AstraZeneca upped its earnings outlook for the full-year following the completion this month of its $39bn (€33bn) deal to buy US drug company Alexion Pharmaceuticals.
It now expects total revenue to increase by a low-20s percentage this year thanks to the acquisition, excluding Covid vaccine sales.
The group has faced both praise and criticism during the pandemic, with its Covid jab hailed as being one of the first on the market and for its low cost in comparison to other jabs.
However, a controversy in Europe over suspected blood clotting led to the vaccine briefly being suspended, and some countries are still not rolling out the jab.