Despite new AstraZeneca vaccine data, U.S. officials remain concerned

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AstraZeneca

Among COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) has been one of the hardest hit in recent weeks. The company first hit some bad news when several European countries announced they were suspending the vaccine over potential side effects not seen in the clinical trials. Since then, AstraZeneca has done its best to control the damage while still hoping for U.S. approval. Now it seems that U.S. health officials are still skeptical about the vaccine.

AstraZeneca recently released interim data from a large trial in the U.S., which found its vaccine to be 79% effective in treating patients and preventing symptoms. While the announcement was seen as a positive development, U.S. officials said that the information released might have been outdated. AstraZeneca didn’t provide any comments as of yet, but it might issue a response later on Tuesday.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that an independent data monitoring board would be working with AstraZeneca to handle some of its concerns. The institute commented that it had “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial… [that] provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.” The regulator said that it urged the pharmaceutical company to “review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

Prior to this news, AstraZeneca was hoping that it would receive emergency authorization from the FDA sometime soon and that its vaccine would be available in the U.S. by May. However, with these new setbacks, this date might be pushed back by a fair bit. Especially since the U.S. already has a number of vaccines already approved, the urgency to have another one cleared for use isn’t as pressing as it was six months ago.

Just last week, several European countries ended up suspending AstraZeneca’s vaccine over potential side effect concerns. The main issue seemed to be potentially life-threatening blood clots that were popping up in patients that recently took the vaccine. In some cases, these blood clots proved lethal. Germany, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, and a few other European countries suspended the vaccine, although health officials have since said the treatment is still perfectly safe to take.

Shares of AstraZeneca are dipping slightly in response to the news, with the stock down 1.9% right now in pre-market trading. Overall, the company’s stock hasn’t been overly affected by this development. Last week when the news first broke, AstraZeneca’s stock just continued to stay steady.

Considering that most large pharmaceutical companies aren’t making this vaccine for profit, it makes sense that shareholders aren’t as moved by a short-term setback on a COVID-19 vaccine, especially if it’s not contributing to the company’s bottom line.

 

AstraZeneca Company Profile

A merger between Astra of Sweden and Zeneca Group of the United Kingdom formed AstraZeneca in 1999. The company sells branded drugs across several major therapeutic classes, including gastrointestinal, diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory, cancer, and immunology. The majority of sales come from international markets with the United States representing close to one third of its sales. – Warrior Trading News

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