AstraZeneca shares withstand Covid-19 vaccine turmoil

Germany and Italy join France and the Netherlands in suspending AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine programmes

AstraZeneca shares traded marginally up on Monday, despite the ongoing international dispute surrounding its Covid-19 vaccine.

On Monday March 15, Germany and Italy joined the likes of Ireland, France, Norway, Denmark, Thailand, Iceland, Bulgaria and the Netherlands in suspending the coronavirus treatment developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant in conjunction with Oxford University.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn stated that the decision to pause came: “following a recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute” the nation’s vaccine regulator and was taken “out of caution”.

The suspensions arose last week after the Norwegian medicines agency revealed it had been notified of three health workers, who had received the jab, being treated in hospital for blood clots, low blood platelet count and bleeding.

In recent days World Health Organisation has strenuously denied the possibility of a link between the treatment and increased risk of developing blood clots, while the United Nations health agency has called on countries to continue their vaccination programmes.

The United Kingdom has so far undertaken one of the fastest and largest Covid-19 vaccination programmes in Europe.

Addressing recent concerns, Professor Anthony Harden, the Deputy Chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), observed: “We’ve given 11 million doses here and there’s no evidence of increased risk of blood clots.”

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In a statement, an AstraZeneca spokesperson maintained:

"Patient safety is the highest priority for AstraZeneca,  Regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine, and that includes COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. The safety of the vaccine has been extensively studied in Phase III clinical trials and peer-reviewed data confirms the vaccine has been generally well tolerated."

In the face of what threatened to be substantially disruptive decisions by multiple national governments, AstraZeneca’s share price was essentially unaffected on Monday. The company traded up 0.14 per cent towards the end of the trading at 6,963 pence, down only 0.7 per cent in the past week.

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