Europe's Vaccination Drive Shaky As Bloc Grapples With Safety Scare Related To AstraZeneca COVID-19 Shot: Report

Europe’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout with AstraZeneca Plc (NASDAQ: AZN) has intensified further, with at least nine countries suspending the use of the shot over safety concerns, reports Bloomberg. This latest concern comes on top of the company’s already existing supply problem with the EU. 

What Happened: Austria was the first to raise concerns. Denmark, Italy, and Norway soon jumped the bandwagon, pointing to instances of blood clotting that health authorities want to investigate more closely.

Although last week, Italy stopped around 250,000 doses of the vaccine from its Anagni, Italy, plant being shipped to Australia.

France and Germany helped spearhead the age restrictions and have sought to convince a sometimes-skeptical public of the shot’s effectiveness.

According to a study conducted at the University of Oxford, the company’s COVID-19 jab has shown effectiveness against Brazil’s virus variant.

The German institute that oversees vaccine safety said that there had been 11 reports of instances of blood clotting and four deaths, and about 1.2 million people have received the shot in the country. There’s no evidence the clotting resulted from the vaccine.

Why It Matters: AstraZeneca has asked the Biden administration to let it give the doses sitting idle in the U.S. manufacturing facilities to the European Union, where the vaccination campaign has tripped, partly due to limited supply of the doses, notes New York Times. Though the administration, for now, has denied the request.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is already authorized in more than 70 countries, its U.S. trial has not yet reported results, and the company has not applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization. 

About 30 million doses are currently bottled at AstraZeneca’s facility in Ohio, which handles “fill-finish,” the manufacturing process’s final phase.

The hesitation is partly related to uncertainties with vaccine supply before a late May benchmark laid down by President Biden.

As the Biden administration has sidelined AstraZeneca’s candidate in favor of more supply of the three vaccines authorized by the FDA, the U.S. may only briefly, or never, need the AstraZeneca doses if they are cleared for emergency use, says New York Times.

Price Action: AZN shares are trading 0.6% lower at $48.4 in premarket on the last check Friday.

Posted In: COVID-19 VaccineBiotechNewsHealth CareFDAGeneral

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