The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been approved by the Indian drug regulator for emergency use, Reuters reported.
India has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases after the US. The AstraZeneca (AZN)/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is being made locally in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and is branded COVISHIELD.
As per Reuters, another vaccine, called COVAXIN, which has been developed locally in India by Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research, has also been granted emergency use authorization.
On December 30, AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in the UK for the active immunization of individuals 18 years or older. The authorization recommends two doses administered with an interval of between four and 12 weeks. The company is working with its global partners to ramp up its manufacturing capacity of up to three billion vaccine doses globally in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approvals.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2-8 degrees Celsius/ 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months and administered within existing healthcare settings. (See AZN stock analysis)
In December 2020, Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Purcell upgraded AstraZeneca to Buy from Hold and selected it as a preferred large-cap growth stock across the European biopharma sector. One of the reasons cited for the rating upgrade was the strength of the company’s cancer drugs, Calquence and Farxiga. Purcell noted that the company’s oncology pipeline has driven rapid sales growth in the past two years following a number of lean years.
The analyst expects AstraZeneca to deliver 9% sales growth and 19% EPS growth over the next five years.
Overall, the Street has a Strong Buy analyst consensus on the stock based on 6 Buys versus 1 Hold. The average price target of $67.50 indicates an upside potential of 35% from current levels. Shares (trading on the NASDAQ) were essentially flat in 2020.
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