CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) shares are edging lower today as ongoing uncertainty over the side effects of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continues. At the time of writing, the CSL share price is trading 0.11% lower at $265.22.
CSL is involved in the research, development, manufacture, marketing and distribution of biopharmaceutical and allied products. The company advised late last month it is set to produce more than 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine per week.
It was commissioned by the government to produce 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, before the vaccine was found to create a one-in-200,000 chance of blood clots – termed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia – around the brain and abdomen.
This led to the government’s health body ruling out use of the vaccine for anyone under 50-years-old, including frontline health workers, but that uncertainty has led to the widespread cancellation of vaccine appointments across the country.
One Australian patient suffered thrombosis and a low platelet count after being vaccinated on 22 March.
The government has ordered an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, bringing the total to 40 million, which are due to arrive late this year.
This is leading to concerns that many of the vaccine doses CSL is producing will go to waste. Furthermore, the government has now thrown out any timeframe around rolling out the vaccine.
CSL said in a statement on 8 April that it was still committed to producing the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“[CSL is] 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.”
CSL share price snapshot
Despite initial dips in the CSL share price as vaccine targets were changed and AstraZeneca uncertainty pervaded news headlines, the company’s shares have continued to rise over the past month.
At the time of writing, the CSL share price is up by 0.74% this week and 3.66% over the past month.
However, it’s worth noting that the company’s shares have been slipping since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past 12 months, the CSL share price has lost around 19% and it’s down around 12% against the healthcare sector during that same period.