Sir Andrew Pollard talks to Sir Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca about their pandemic partnership to develop the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. Over three billion vaccines have been delivered, saving six and a half million lives.
It’s a reunion in this episode of the Oxford Colloquy, as Sir Andrew Pollard talks to Sir Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca (AZ), about their pandemic partnership to develop the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. Although, as you’ll discover, they have more than vaccines in common.
From his early childhood in a relatively poor suburb of Paris, that included a love of horses, Sir Pascal talks about his first career, as a vet. But a desire to explore the world led him to the pharmaceutical industry, human health, and eventually to the top job at AZ.
With AZ now one of the fastest growing global pharmaceutical companies, Sir Pascal spends much of his time travelling. With a workstation at every site, and a ‘water cooler’ style of leadership, he keeps his ear to the ground and across vast operations.
Sir Pascal puts this period of rapid growth down to a combination of following the science, putting patients at the heart of drug development, and a well-defined focus on cancer, cardio-vascular disease, respiratory disease and more recently, rare disease.
It was early on in the pandemic that Sir Pascal realised that COVID-19 was likely to be a very big problem. He describes AZ’s very modest start – supplying masks and looking at repurposing existing drugs for treatment. But he was then introduced to Oxford’s vaccine scientists by Regius Professor of Medicine, Sir John Bell, and work together began.
Sir Pascal describes the AZ/Oxford partnership as very successful – a marriage of scientific expertise, with large-scale manufacturing and distribution skills. Both Sir Andrew and Sir Pascal note the sense of pride felt among all those involved at delivering three billion vaccines that have saved over six and a half million lives around the world.