The CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) share price is a little wobbly this morning after negative vaccine news overnight from the United Kingdom.
The pharmaceutical giant, which produces and supplies the AstraZeneca PLC (LSE: AZ) COVID-19 vaccine in Australia, is trading close to its opening price after news that the UK medical regulator has found a “possible link” between the vaccine and blood clotting in younger adults. The regulator noted that blood clotting was considered a rare side-effect of the vaccine.
At the time of writing, the CSL share price is trading flat around $263 as Australian investors digest the news out of the UK.
What’s driving the CSL share price?
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) released a statement overnight concluding the evidence of a causal link between blood clotting and receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in low platelet individuals was stronger than previously thought, but not conclusive.
The agency said the risk of blood clotting decreased with age and was “extremely rare and unlikely to occur”.
Its statistics suggested the risk of developing a blood clot after the first vaccine dose was 1 in 250,000 (0.0004%) and the risk of a fatal blood clot was 1 in 1 million (0.0001%). Despite this, the UK will provide alternative vaccines to the under 30s if possible.
Our graphics to illustrate the potential benefits and potential harms of the AstraZeneca vaccine as announced by the MHRA this afternoon.
Benefits accrued over 16 weeks, at three different levels of exposure to the virus. pic.twitter.com/awB80xes3mAlexandra Freeman (@alex_freeman) April 7, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) responded to the UK news, saying evidence of the link, while plausible, was not yet confirmed. It also noted the risk of catching and dying from COVID-19 was much higher than the risk of the vaccine.
What did our top doctor say?
Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly told ABC Radio:
There seems to be a trend in younger people and, at least in the European data in women being more common, but I would really stress these are extremely rare events and like with any treatment… we have to look at the risk and benefit.
And we do know that the benefits of vaccinations against this very serious diseases Covid is a really important component of our control…
Ultimately it will be a decision by the Australian Government about what that means for the vaccine rollout.
Australia is primarily relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine in the fight against COVID. The government has contracted CSL to develop the vaccine locally.
Both the imported and locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine have already been approved by the Therapeutics Good Administration (TGA).
Speaking about the developments this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s medical experts would look at the data before making new recommendations to the government.
The Prime Minister also stressed the extremely low chances of people experiencing blood clotting from the vaccine. He advised that at present, the vaccine rollout would not be affected by the latest developments.
Motley Fool Australia reached out to CSL for comment, but none was received before publication.