Sir Pascal Soriot
Sir Pascal Soriot

Concerns around the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine were “overblown by the media”, the company’s chief executive has said.

Sir Pascal Soriot was speaking after he was knighted by the King at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

Among those also honoured at the investiture ceremony was presenter Matt Baker, actor Damian Lewis, Coronation Street star William Roache, and film director Sir John Boorman.

Speaking to the PA news agency after receiving his knighthood from Charles, Sir Pascal said: “It means a lot. It means that the King and country have recognised that personally and also through my team at AstraZeneca, we’ve had a huge impact on life sciences in the UK and of course on the Covid pandemic.

“It’s been both challenging but also a very rewarding project.”

He said the company had produced three billion doses globally.

Sir Pascal Soriot knighted
Sir Pascal Soriot was knighted by the King at Windsor Castle

Asked about concerns surrounding rare blood clots liked to the vaccine, he said: “There is no medicine or vaccine without issues.

“This concern was overblown unfortunately by the media. It’s extremely rare, extremely rare.

“Since then, new concerns have emerged with other vaccines – heart inflammation, etcetera.

“All of those issues are extremely rare but of course when you vaccinate billions of people, you’re going to have a few issues.”

Sir Pascal also warned that “Covid is here to stay”, but said people should worry about flu and other viruses as well.

He revealed that he discussed climate change with the King as he was knighted.

“Each time I meet the King we talk about climate change,” he said.

“I work with the King in the SMI (Sustainable Markets Initiative) on climate change and carbon reduction.”