Could AstraZeneca shares tumble if its vaccine is halted for under-30s?

The AstraZeneca share price has come under pressure in recent days as the UK’s medical authorities consider new restrictions on its vaccine, and EU nations continue to halt the AZ vaccine rollout amid the safety uncertainty.

  • Year-to-date decline of 2.35% for AstraZeneca shares
  • UK could restrict AstraZeneca vaccine for under-30s
  • The European Medicines Agency (EMA) to reveal findings on links to blood clots
  • Moderna vaccine in line to take advantage
  • Want to trade AstraZeneca shares? Open an account today

The AstraZeneca (AZN.L) share price has plunged by 3.9% in the last week following increasing uncertainty surrounding its Covid-19 vaccine’s links to rare blood clots, known as thromboembolic events.

On 21 March 2021, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published fresh data on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, stating that 30 cases of blood clots had been discovered in 18.1 million doses.

Is the MHRA set to take a view on the vaccine’s safety record?

The UK’s vaccine programme has been one of the quickest and most comprehensive in the world. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been one of two Covid-19 vaccines used in the nationwide rollout, along with the Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (BNTX.O) vaccines respectively.

However, a Channel 4 News report released on 5 April 2021 suggested that the MHRA has been ‘urged’ to ‘pause or restrict’ usage of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid safety fears among younger people. The MHRA is actively ‘scrutinising’ data which suggests young women under 30 are at heightened risk of a ‘potentially fatal blood clot’ from the vaccine than Covid-19 itself.

Although the MHRA’s chief executive, Dr June Raine, insisted that people should ‘continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so’, the prospect of fresh regulatory action has created a short-term bear market for AstraZeneca shares.

Why is the Netherlands the latest EU nation to curb AstraZeneca vaccine rollout?

The AstraZeneca share price fall has also factored in recent rows over vaccine deliveries across the European Union (EU) bloc. The British-Swedish firm has also been hit by a string of EU nations opting to temporarily halt the rollout of the vaccine. The Netherlands is the most recent to scrap 10,000 planned vaccinations after reporting five new cases of blood clotting in females aged between 25 and 65.

The EMA has steadfastly insisted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective' to use, in recent weeks. However, the EMA’s safety committee is due to reveal its ‘evaluation of a safety signal’ with AstraZeneca based on ‘cases of thromboembolic events’.

Why are Moderna shares surging in light of the AstraZeneca vaccine uncertainty?

If the MHRA recommends limiting the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals over 30, the Moderna vaccine looks set to benefit as the primary vaccine for Britain’s young adult population.

The UK government’s Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi insists that the government will be ‘led by what the regulator and scientists say is the right thing to do’.

The US-developed Moderna (MRNA.O) vaccine has become the third Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out in the UK, with 17 million doses ordered by the UK government. The first Moderna batch has reached Wales and Scotland and it will be deployed in England from the third week of April.

With the Moderna vaccine tipped to replace the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK’s rollout to younger people, it’s no surprise that Moderna shares have soared over 16% in the last week from 118p to highs of 137.67p, showing signs of returning to those February highs.

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