AstraZeneca to withdraw Covid vaccine worldwide, citing a drop in demand

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it planned to withdraw its Covid-19 vaccine as demand for it has declined.

The so-called Vaxzevria vaccine was developed with the University of Oxford and was one of the first shots against Covid-19 to hit the market during the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of people around the world receiving it.

The U.K. was the first country to roll out the shot in January of 2021, around a year after the World Health Organization first characterized the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic.

Demand for the Vaxzevria vaccine has tailed off as new vaccines tailored to specific Covid variants have emerged, AstraZeneca said in a statement.

“As multiple, variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines. This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzervria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied,” the statement said.

AstraZeneca said it would now work with regulators and partners to establish a path forward.

It had voluntarily withdrawn its marketing authorization in the European Union, which previously allowed it to promote the vaccine, in March of 2024.

Despite being found as safe and effective, AstraZeneca’s vaccine has at times been met with concerns, especially about side effects after a very small number of people suffered blood clots that were linked to the vaccine. A U.K. study found that they were “rare” but could be “devastating.”

The pharmaceutical maker on Wednesday said it was “incredibly proud” of the vaccine’s role during the pandemic.

“According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone and over three billion doses were supplied globally,” its statement said.

“Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic.”

Next to Covid vaccines, AstraZeneca has been working on a range of other treatments for illnesses including cancer. The company said in March that it would buy clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc, which specializes in cancer treatments.   

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