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AstraZeneca to withdraw Covid-19 vaccine Vaxzevria globally on weak demand

AstraZeneca will start the withdrawal of marketing authorisation for the vaccine in Europe


The firm will begin the withdrawal of the marketing authorisation for Vaxzevria from Europe

Anjali SinghSanket Koul Mumbai/Delhi

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AstraZeneca on Wednesday announced the global withdrawal of its Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, days after it was reported that the British pharmaceutical giant admitted the jab can cause rare side effects like blood clots and low platelet counts.

The vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, was produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as Covishield.

ALSO READ: AstraZeneca withdraws its Covid-19 vaccine, cites 'surplus availability'
The company will begin the withdrawal of the marketing authorisation for the vaccine from Europe.

“According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of the use alone, and over three billion doses were supplied globally. As multiple variants of Covid-19 vaccines have since been developed, there is a surplus of the available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in the demand for Vaxzervria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” it said.
AstraZeneca added that the withdrawal is not related to the vaccine’s safety profile. However, the UK court litigation is adamant the reason for the withdrawal is due to the decline in the demand for Vaxzervria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied.
They now aim to work with regulators and partners to finalise their role in the Covid-19 response.

“We fully understand the ongoing concerns and it's crucial to emphasise our commitment to transparency and safety. From the outset, we have disclosed all rare to very rare side effects, including Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, in the packaging insert in 2021. Despite the challenges faced during the global pandemic, the safety of the vaccine remains paramount. Regardless of whether it's AstraZeneca’s Vaxzervria or our own Covishield, both vaccines have been instrumental in saving millions of lives worldwide. We commend the collaborative efforts of governments and ministries in facilitating a unified global response to the pandemic,” a SII spokesperson said.

SII revealed that with India achieving high vaccination rates in 2021 and 2022, coupled with the emergence of new mutant variant strains, the demand for previous vaccines has diminished significantly. In December 2021, they stopped the manufacturing and supply of additional doses of Covishield.

According to a petition filed in the Supreme Court, more than 1.75 billion doses of Covishield, including booster doses were administered in India.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare did not respond to queries till the time of going to press.

"Providing insight into this matter, Prateek Chaudhary, Consultant - Interventional Cardiology at Asian Hospital, Faridabad, stated, “It's undeniable that there's a syndrome linked to this vaccine, but it's extremely crucial to recognize its rarity amidst the thousands who have received it in India and abroad. It's important to note that this syndrome can also have other causes, and occurrences are extremely rare, so there's no need for panic. Side effects of vaccines typically manifest in the future, meaning if you've received the vaccine some time ago, there's no immediate cause for concern. Clotting can occur in both venous and arterial systems due to various reasons such as inflammation, autoimmune disorders, cancer, or extended periods of bed rest.”"

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First Published: May 08 2024 | 8:13 PM IST

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