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Chris Hughes

Why Is AstraZeneca Making So Many Unforced Errors?

The drugmaker is trying to get vaccines to the world at minimal cost. But its repeated mistakes can’t be excused easily.

What’s in the box?

What’s in the box?

Photographer: BEN STANSALL/AFP

Why is AstraZeneca Plc making so many unforced errors in its attempt to distribute billions of doses of Covid vaccines to the world at minimal cost? Once the pandemic is under control, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker should examine whether there’s a problem with the way it makes decisions.

AstraZeneca agreed in April to help develop, manufacture and distribute Oxford University’s jab against Covid-19. It had no business in vaccines: The aim was to bring its resources to the pandemic fight on a non-profit basis. These assets include a global network and established capabilities in running large clinical trials. The outcome is millions of jabs administered within a year. However, the lack of vaccine expertise, an overconfidence in what the firm could achieve and a naivety about the politics of the task cannot be brushed aside.