Key COVID Vaccine Withdrawn

AstraZeneca says outdated Vaxzevria vaccine is no longer being made
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2024 10:45 AM CDT
Key COVID Vaccine Withdrawn
Medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca COVID vaccine during preparations at a vaccine center in Ebersberg Germany, on March 22, 2021.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FILE)

One of the main coronavirus vaccines, thought to have saved millions of lives, has met its end. AstraZeneca cited a downturn in demand for its Vaxzevria vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, on Wednesday, noting the vaccine will no longer be made or offered. It said it was withdrawing marketing authorizations for the vaccine in Europe due to the lack of demand. That means Vaxzevria is no longer permitted to be marketed or sold in the European Union. AstraZeneca said it also expects to withdraw marketing authorizations in countries where no future demand is expected, per CNN. The vaccine never received US approval.

More than 3 billion doses of the vaccine were administered in other countries around the world beginning in January 2021. AstraZeneca said the vaccine saved 6.5 million lives in its first year of use alone, per the BBC. The company initially sold the vaccine at cost, but it began earning revenue in late 2021, per CNN. However, it hasn't generated any revenue from the vaccine since April 2023, the company said. "As multiple, variant COVID-19 vaccines have ... been developed, there is a surplus of available updated vaccines," reads Wednesday's statement. "This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied."

Vaxzevria was essentially outclassed by mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. "They have higher effectiveness, and the mRNA platforms are more easily adapted towards the latest COVID variants," global health researcher Dr. Michael Head tells CNN. Though highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19, the vaccine faced a backlash after some recipients developed rare blood clots. AstraZeneca—which said it was "incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played"—faces a class-action lawsuit in the UK alleging various injuries and deaths tied to the vaccine. The Telegraph has more on that. (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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