AstraZeneca Withdraws COVID-19 Vaccine Globally Due to Surplus of Updated Vaccines


London: Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has announced the global withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine, known as Vaxzevria, citing a “surplus of available updated vaccines” that target new variants of the virus. Here are the key details:

  1. Withdrawal Decision: AstraZeneca voluntarily withdrew its European Union marketing authorization for the vaccine, rendering it no longer authorized for use in the EU¹. The application to withdraw was submitted on March 5, and it took effect on May 7. The company will also make similar applications in the UK and other countries that had previously approved the vaccine.
  2. Commercial Reasons: The decision to withdraw was driven by commercial considerations. AstraZeneca acknowledged a decline in demand for its vaccine due to the availability of newer vaccines specifically adapted to address COVID-19 variants.
  3. TTS Concerns: AstraZeneca faced controversy over its vaccine’s potential side effects. In court documents, the company admitted that its vaccine, Covishield, can “in very rare cases, cause TTS or Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.” TTS is associated with blood clots and low blood platelet counts and has been linked to over 81 deaths in the UK.
  4. Lawsuit: The drugmaker is currently facing a £100 million lawsuit in the UK related to claims that the Covid jab caused deaths and injuries. However, AstraZeneca clarified that the decision to withdraw Covishield is not directly linked to the ongoing court case.
  5. Global Impact: AstraZeneca’s vaccine played a pivotal role in the early days of the pandemic, saving an estimated 6.5 million lives globally in its first year of use. Despite this contribution, the availability of multiple variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines has led to a surplus of updated options, prompting AstraZeneca to work with regulators and partners to chart a clear path forward.

AstraZeneca’s decision reflects the evolving landscape of COVID-19 vaccination efforts, emphasizing the importance of adapting to new variants while addressing safety concerns.