Drugs giant AstraZeneca has signed a series of for-profit agreements for 2022, in a move away from providing its Covid-19 vaccine to countries at cost.

The company had previously said that their top priority was to protect global health and that they would only start to make money from the vaccine when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said that the jab would continue to be supplied not-for-profit to poorer countries, but pointed out that the disease was becoming endemic and other vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna have been making profits from their vaccines. He also said that the vaccine had saved a million lives around the world.

In its financial results, AstraZeneca said, “The company is now expecting to progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received.  It said; “Covid-19 vaccine sales in [the fourth quarter of 2021] are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders, with the large majority coming from pandemic agreements.”

Mr Soriot had previously said, “We decided to provide it at no profit, because our top priority was to protect global health.”  He also told the BBC he had “absolutely no regrets” about not making a profit when competitors had been, despite having to deal with political criticism in various countries.

 By the end of September, AstraZeneca and its sub-licensees had supplied 1.5 billion doses.