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CSL (ASX:CSL) share price dips on latest AstraZeneca news

Medical asx share price fall represented by worried looking patient awaiting vaccine injection
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The CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) share price is down today as the Australian Government recommended that people under 50 should not take the AstraZeneca PLC (LSE: AZN) COVID-19 vaccine.

At the time of writing, shares in the pharmaceutical giant are trading for $264.20, down 0.65%. By comparison, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is 0.43% lower.

With the latest vaccine developments potentially impacting the country’s return to post-COVID ‘normal’, the news may be behind today’s downward trend across the stock market.

Let’s take a closer look at last night’s developments and how the CSL share price is responding.

New vaccine recommendation

In another blow to the Federal Government’s delayed vaccine rollout (and the CSL share price), the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends but is not mandating an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca for people aged under 50.

The recommendation comes as a possible, but extremely rare, causal link was found between the AstraZeneca vaccine and fatal blood clotting.

At the time of the country’s most recent census, taken in 2016, Australia had just over 11 million people between the ages of 15 and 49.

In a statement yesterday, ATAGI said it made the decision after factoring in the risks and benefits of taking the vaccine in Australia, where there has been minimal community transmission of the disease recently.

In a press conference last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would accept the expert group’s recommendations. As AstraZeneca was supposed to supply more than 50 million doses of the vaccine, the vast sum of which were to be manufactured locally by CSL, the government conceded it would no longer meet its October deadline of every adult receiving their first vaccine dose.

Australia has already been plagued by supply issues caused by European nations blocking shipments of the vaccine into Australia. As a reminder, it takes 2 doses for an adult to be fully immunised against COVID-19.

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said the government’s response to the vaccine was abundantly cautious but not an overreaction.

“What we’ve seen today is, following some advice and some analysis from our European friends, a very precautionary, an abundantly cautious approach, to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Mr Zimmerman told ABC current affairs show Q&A last night.

CSL and AstraZeneca Australia responses

In a press release, CSL responded to the developments, saying:

CSL remains committed to meeting its contracted arrangements with the Australian Government and AstraZeneca for locally produced AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue our focused and important efforts to manufacture this vaccine which remains critical for the protection of our most vulnerable populations.

We are proud of our unique role in Australia as the only onshore manufacturer that can produce this vaccine and remain dedicated to our ongoing contribution towards this effort.

In defence of its product, AstraZeneca Australia said:

Overall, regulatory agencies have reaffirmed the vaccine offers a high-level of protection against all severities of COVID-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks.

AstraZeneca has been actively collaborating with regulators and expert advisory groups around the world, including the TGA and ATAGI in Australia to understand the individual cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events.

CSL share price snapshot

The CSL share price has faced many challenges over the last 12 months, falling by 19.6% during that time. Just this week, Motley Fool Australia discussed 6 reasons why the CSL share price may be struggling.

At the time of writing, CSL has a market capitalisation of $120 billion.

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Marc Sidarous has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of CSL Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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