The whirlwind surrounding the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine continues with new warnings from UK and EU medical regulators flooding in yesterday. Following a review into the efficacy, benefits and risks associated with the vaccine the double-dose shot is once again in the firing line. The guidance from the European Medicines Agency is that there is a link between blood clots and the Astra-jab. Accordingly, this should be listed as a rare side-effect of the jab. However, given that its public benefit hugely outweighs the individual risk of taking it, this body continues to endorse the jab in its Covid-19 vaccination guidance without reservation. The response from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency [pauses for breath], was different: under 30s should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca jab.
If you hadn’t seen this news, which did have a marked impact on GBP markets yesterday, I’d forgive you for thinking that my understanding of prepositions requires improvement. Having seen the initial rollout of the vaccine in the Eurozone, notably Germany and France, be accompanied by an age cap of 65, why are regulators now instead putting a floor on advised recipients of the vaccine at age 30? The argument for this age floor is unclear. Cynics might suggest that given the risk-based and consequently age-staggered vaccination programme that the Medicines agency has pursued, putting an age floor in allows a regulatory response to avoid accusations of negligence whilst not yet harming the rate of inoculations in the UK.
This explanation too might hold weight. Those side-effects reported to the regulator in the UK included at least 19 deaths following injection with the vaccine in question. Of those, only three persons who sadly lost their lives were under 30. Given the systemic importance of the AstraZeneca jab to the UK vaccination programme and in turn the boost given to GBP by the medical covid-response, GBP has suffered following this review.
Yesterday, the UK administered its first public Moderna vaccinations in Wales. The level of vaccinations offered produced by other pharma companies fell to their lowest level so far this year as UK supplies of Pfizer and AstraZeneca equivalents continue to encounter delays. With the elevated positioning achieved by an 8% rally year to date in Sterling and with shifting market positioning ahead of the FOMC minutes release last night, yesterday was a day of profit taking and de-risking to the detriment of the Pound.
Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter