- Gene and cell therapy group Oxford Biomedica swung to a first-half profit after its revenue more than doubled, thanks partly to a Covid-19 vaccine agreement with AstraZeneca.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through June amounted to £19.2 million, compared to year-on-year losses of £6.1 million.

Revenue jumped to £81.3 million, up from £34.0 million, with exceptional growth seen in bioprocessing and commercial development.

Operating expenses fell 19% to £23.6 million, which the company pinned on a higher recovery of batch manufacturing costs, which was reflected in increased cost of goods.

Oxford Biomedica said it continued large-scale commercial manufacture of AstraZeneca's adenovirus vector-based Covid-19 vaccine, running three manufacturing suites.

In May, it and AstraZeneca committed to an increase in the number of batches required from Oxford Biomedica in the second half of 2021.

That resulted in the company raising its expectation for cumulative revenues from the contract to be in excess of £100 million by the end of 2021.

Looking forward, the company said operating earnings for the second half would rise year-on-year, but be below the first half of 2021 due to higher R&D, development, administrative and bioprocessing costs.

'The exceptional financial results that we have reported reflect our strong progress across the business as we continue to demonstrate our world leading expertise in gene and cell therapy,' chief executive John Dawson said.

'As we move from strength to strength, and with rapid growth in the cell and gene therapy market, we are in a great position to maximise on the opportunities ahead, both in lentiviral vectors as well as other viral vector types and look forward to the remainder of 2021 and beyond with considerable confidence.'

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