AstraZeneca Wins WHO Emergency Listing For COVID-19 Vaccine; Street Sees 31% Upside

AstraZeneca announced yesterday that the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for its COVID-19 vaccine. The authorization permits the global use for active immunization against COVID-19 in all individuals aged 18 years and older. Two versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been approved for emergency use, including COVISHIELD, which was developed by the Serum Institute of India.

AstraZeneca (AZN) said that the approval followed clinical trials, which showed that two doses of the vaccine injected at a four to twelve-week interval was safe and effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19.

However, it has been suggested by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) that doses be administered at an interval of eight to twelve weeks. Moreover, the use of the vaccine in countries with exposure to new variants, including the South African B1.351 variant, is highly recommended. (See AstraZeneca stock analysis on TipRanks)

With the help of the COVAX Facility, the vaccines will be supplied by AstraZeneca and SII globally. In the first half of 2021, more than 300 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be made available to 145 countries through COVAX.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said, “This is a huge step towards ensuring global access to our vaccine and helping us fulfil our public health commitment to broad and equitable access at no profit during the pandemic.”

On Feb. 1, Leerink Partners analyst Andrew Berens reiterated a Buy rating on the stock with a price target of $64 (23.8% upside potential). The analyst believes, “AstraZeneca is a global biopharmaceutical company that has successfully transitioned from a company focusing primarily on therapeutics to treat general medical conditions to one that is driven by an oncology portfolio that we expect to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% through 2024.”

The consensus rating among analysts is a Strong Buy based on 6 Buys and 1 Hold. The average analyst price target of $67.50 suggests upside potential of around 30.6% over the next 12 months. Shares have increased by nearly 6.8% over the past year.

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