AstraZeneca shares rise to the top of the FTSE despite vaccine concerns

imageStock Markets14 hours ago (Mar 16, 2021 10:27)

© Reuters

By Samuel Indyk – Shares in AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) were at the top of the FTSE 100 on Tuesday morning as the company shrugged off concerns about its vaccine. At 10:25GMT shares were up 3.1% at 7,195. .

On Monday, the four largest countries in the EU – Germany, France, Italy, and Spain – all suspended the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab amid reports that several people who had received the jab had developed blood clots.

The big 4 EU countries are not the only ones to suspend the vaccine. Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, and non-EU countries including Iceland, Norway, and Thailand have all halted the use of the vaccine as a precautionary measure.

However, regulators are less concerned about the blood clotting events. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) yesterday provided an update on the so-called thromboembolic events saying that they were investigating the situation but not changing their view on the whether rollout should be stopped.

“The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects,” the EMA said in a statement.

The EMA’s safety committee is scheduled to meet today to review the information and has called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday to conclude on the information gathered and whether any further action needs to be taken.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said they closely reviewing reports but the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also urged countries not to panic and not pause their vaccination programmes adding there was no evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood clots.

The WHO’s vaccine safety experts are meeting today to discuss the jab.

Political Decision?

The Director General of Italy’s medicines authority AIFA said that the decision to suspend shots by a number of European countries was a “political one”.

“We got to the point of a suspension because several European countries, including Germany and France, preferred to interrupt vaccinations… to put them on hold in order to carry out checks. The choice is a political one,” Nicola Magrini said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Magrini expects that it will take a few days to gather the data and once doubts are cleared, the vaccination programme will carry on at a faster speed than before.

In separate news, the company announced pre-market that they are to supply the United States with up to 500,000 additional doses of potential Covid-19 antibody treatment AZD7442. The value of the extended agreement is $205mln and is contingent on AZD7442 receiving FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

AstraZeneca shares rise to the top of the FTSE despite vaccine concerns

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