The AstraZeneca Company, once famous only within its sector and in the places where its plants are, has now developed a global profile as a result of developing a controversial COVID-19 vaccine. Suddenly everyone is an expert on the company, saying “AstraZeneca” in the same tone they use to say “Fourth of July” or “Lamingtons” when talking to people they know very well don’t automatically get their references
Where AstraZeneca is a presence, the locals do know about it. AstraZeneca pharmaceutical plants are often significant local employers, and shinier versions of car plants or central post offices. In its native Sweden you see the AstraZeneca logo everywhere, much as you would see Ford or McDonalds in any Western country.
But like many large companies, it was an employer and a building, not a reality for those who weren’t directly connected with it. In this respect it resembles The Mafia, which most people even in areas it is known to operate in will never have direct personal experience of.
This does not mean that AstraZeneca, or any other company of whom this could be said, is a criminal organisation. It is however a part of our culture we should be more aware of. Most of vaccine problems, are those of imagine and trust, so we are told.
There is a reason the “AstraZeneca vaccine”, invented at the University of Oxford, was given to this company whose global headquarters is in Cambridge, the last place anyone from Oxford University would be seen dead in.
For all its good and valuable work, it is not primarily there to help people – or to be more accurate, it is there to help those few who love going on about “the people” when they pretend those people agree with them, to cover the crimes they commit against those who do not.
AstraZeneca is a global company with a multinational workforce. However it is described as “British-Swedish” because it was formed by a merger of the Swedish company Astra AB and the British company Zeneca.
We can all name some famous Swedish companies. Volvo, Ikea, Saab, Ericsson, Spotify and many others have become so much part of the global marketplace they have been adopted as parts of the communities where their products are used.