Vaccitech, the start-up that owns the technology behind the AstraZeneca vaccine, has warned that concerns about the rare side effect of blood clotting could hit royalties and tarnish the reputation of the products in the pipeline.
The Oxford University spinout published its prospectus for an initial public offering of at least $ 100 million on Nasdaq on Friday, at the end of the week in which the UK and several EU countries advised against giving the vaccine to younger people.
The application showed how much the start-up can receive from the sale of vaccines. If and when AstraZeneca is going to sell the shot for a profit after the pandemic – which, according to their contract, could be as early as July 2021 – Oxford will give about a quarter of the royalties it receives from the vaccine to Vaccitech, about 1.4 percent of total net sales.
The company received a one-time payment of $ 2.5 million when it handed over the technology behind the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine last year.
Vaccitech develops vaccines for other infectious diseases, including the virus behind shingles and Mers, another coronavirus, and uses the same vector technology in treatments for cancer and chronic hepatitis.
The pandemic helped the company prove its technology works for millions of people, while many biotech companies go public with little or no data from clinical trials. The rapid development and production of the AstraZeneca vaccine has also helped prove that Vaccitech’s technology can scale quickly.
But while the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, known as AZD1222, has proven to be safe and effective, recent concerns about a very rare side effect now weigh on public perception of the shot.
“There can be no assurance that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events,” the company wrote in the filing.
Vaccitech also warned that studies showing that the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the variant first identified in South Africa could affect sales.
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“Any association of AZD1222 with adverse events, or the perception of such an association, or any findings that AZD1222 is less effective against certain variants of Covid-19, could reduce AZD1222’s sales and therefore the potential payments we can receive from the net sales of the vaccine, and otherwise may adversely affect the development of, and our ability to market, our product candidates, ”he said.
Vaccitech’s decision to be admitted to New York is a disappointment to the UK, which hopes to attract more investment in life sciences. According to people close to the situation, the UK Treasury has a stake in the company.
The largest investor is Oxford Sciences Innovation, an early stage venture capital firm focused on commercializing the university’s intellectual property, with a 29 percent stake before the offering. Other major shareholders are insurer Prudential, with a 13 percent stake, and entities affiliated with Google Ventures, which own 6 percent.