AstraZeneca Halts Global Sales of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Due to Rare Side Effects

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.08 - 2024 1:10 PM CET

AstraZeneca withdraws its COVID-19 vaccine globally due to rare but severe side effects, marking a significant pivot in its pandemic response strategy.

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AstraZeneca is pulling its COVID-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, off the worldwide market.

This decision, as reported by The Telegraph, comes after acknowledging for the first time last week that the vaccine could trigger rare but severe side effects like thrombosis.

This announcement coincides with the company’s voluntary withdrawal of its marketing authorization within the European Union.

Swift Response to Emerging Concerns

The official withdrawal request in the EU was filed on March 5 and became effective on May 7, setting a precedent for similar actions expected in the UK and other approving countries in the coming months.

As The Telegraph notes, this strategic pullback reflects a broader shift as updated vaccines targeting COVID-19 variants have filled the market, leading to a surplus and diminishing demand for Vaxzevria.

A Look at the Impact and Legacy

Despite the current challenges, AstraZeneca’s Spanish subsidiary issued a statement highlighting the vaccine's significant contribution to combating the global pandemic.

“We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic," the statement read, crediting the vaccine with saving over 6.5 million lives and distributing more than 3 billion doses globally within its first year of use.

The withdrawal does not directly tie to ongoing legal battles faced by AstraZeneca due to the vaccine's adverse effects, including several class action lawsuits.

These legal issues stem from claims of serious injuries and even deaths linked to the vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

In court documents presented in February, AstraZeneca acknowledged that, in extremely rare instances, the vaccine could cause Thrombocytopenia Thrombosis Syndrome (TTS), a serious condition marked by blood clots and a low blood platelet count.

This potential link was first observed in March 2021, soon after the vaccine's widespread deployment.

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