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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

AstraZeneca initiates global recall of COVID-19 vaccine

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AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, has announced that it is withdrawing its COVID-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, worldwide.

According to the multinational pharmaceutical company, the vaccine is being withdrawn because it can no longer compete with updated COVID-19 vaccines, which tackle the new variant of the infectious disease.

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AstraZeneca, in a statement, maintained the vaccine was no longer being manufactured or supplied because it was superseded by the newly produced vaccines, according to a report by The New Telegraph on Tuesday.

The company has relinquished its marketing authorisation in the European Union and also intends to do the same in other countries in the coming months.

This means that Vaxzevria is no longer authorised to be marketed or sold in European Union countries and any other country where the vaccine was approved.

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The European Medicines Agency announced the withdrawal on its website. The vaccine’s application withdrawal from the EU was made on March 5 and came into effect on Tuesday.

“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 Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied. AstraZeneca has therefore taken the decision to initiate withdrawal of the marketing authorisations for Vaxzevria within Europe.

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“We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the company was quoted as saying.

‘Withdrawal unconnected to dangerous side effects’

Three months ago, the multinational company admitted for the first time in court documents that its vaccine triggers rare and dangerous side effects.

The company confirmed that the vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS,” an acronym for Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.

The syndrome has been linked to at least 81 deaths in the UK as well as hundreds of serious injuries.

AstraZeneca, however, insisted its decision to withdraw the vaccine is not related to the court case or its admission.

It said the timing was pure coincidence.

The company said, “We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global 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.

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

Scrutiny, lawsuit against AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is being sued by a UK firm, Leigh Day, on behalf of 51 claimants, alleging injuries caused by Vaxzevria.

In 2021, Vaxzevria came under scrutiny due to reports of rare blood clotting cases, mostly in Europe.

This led to temporary suspensions of its use in several countries. Denmark was the first country to suspend the vaccine, and then Ireland, Thailand, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Congo, and Bulgaria followed suit.

Twelve of the claimants in the lawsuit are representing a loved one who died following a complication allegedly caused by the vaccine, related to the blood clotting issue.

In court documents submitted to a UK court in February, AstraZeneca confirmed a rare side effect known as TTS.

According to reports, TTS is a rare, but serious condition associated with certain Covid-19 vaccines, particularly adenovirus vector vaccines like the AstraZeneca vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

It involves the formation of blood clots in combination with low platelet levels. Often, the blood clots occur in unusual locations, such as the brain or abdomen, along with low platelet counts.

Some of its symptoms are; severe headache, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and leg swelling.

However, in March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement regarding safety signals associated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, indicating that it considered the benefits to outweigh the potential risks.

WHO recommended that vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue.

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