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AstraZeneca Begins Worldwide Withdrawal of COVID-19 Vaccine

Source: The Epoch Times, Caden Pearson, 08 May 2024

AstraZeneca has commenced a global withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, citing a “surplus” of updated jabs for new variants, months after acknowledging its rare risk of serious side effects.

The pharmaceutical giant’s jab, Vaxzevria, is no longer authorized in the European Union as of May 7, after AstraZeneca requested the withdrawal of its “marketing authorization” on March 5, documents first reported by The Telegraph show.

The removal of its authorization comes just weeks after the company admitted in a UK court document that its shot “can, in very rare cases, cause” blood clots and low platelets, a rare but serious condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TSS). The company had originally denied a causal link.

However, AstraZeneca did not cite the admission as contributing to its decision. Instead, it stated that there was now an “oversupply of updated vaccines” that target new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

AstraZeneca said in a statement to The Telegraph that it is committed to working with regulators and partners to conclude its “contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the company said in the statement. “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 recognized by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic.

“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 authorizations for Vaxzevria within Europe. 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 statement concludes.

UK Class Action

Vaxzevria, a viral vector-based vaccine, was initially authorized for use in the European Union in January 2021.

The European withdrawal follows a similar removal of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods weeks ago, on April 23.

The removal in Australia was attributed to a “business decision of the company, due to no current or anticipated future demand of the vaccine, and follows similar business decisions made overseas.”

Australia changed its official COVID-19 immunization recommendation for certain age groups from AstraZeneca’s vaccine to an alternative jab in 2021 based on evidence of linked cases of TSS.

AstraZeneca’s admission, which was revealed in a UK high court document from February that was made public in late April, came to light through a lengthy class action legal battle in the United Kingdom, reported The Telegraph.

That case involved claims of dozens of injuries and deaths in the United Kingdom allegedly caused by AstraZeneca’s vaccine. More than 50 people have sued the company, along with the vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, for compensation over claims of vaccine injuries.

AstraZeneca has denied the claims but conceded the risk of TTS.

Should the pharmaceutical giant be found liable, UK taxpayers would need to foot the bill for any settlement in the case due to an agreement with the UK government.

In May 2023, AstraZeneca reportedly wrote to the lawyers representing an alleged victim, Jamie Scott, refusing to accept that TTS is caused by its vaccine “at a generic level.”

“It is admitted that the AZ vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause TTS. The causal mechanism is not known,” the company wrote, according to The Telegraph. “Further, TTS can also occur in the absence of the AZ vaccine (or any vaccine). Causation in any individual case will be a matter for expert evidence.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine had previously been temporarily suspended in European countries following reports of a death attributed to the vaccine in the Netherlands and adverse effects elsewhere.

Cases have been confirmed in Australia as well, including one involving an actress who sued AstraZeneca after being diagnosed with vaccine-induced TTS, which led to a life-threatening stroke, leaving her unable to work within weeks of receiving the company’s vaccine.

According to the European Medicines Agency, Vaxzevria does not contain the COVID-19 virus itself but is made up of another virus of the adenovirus family modified to contain the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Though generally deemed safe and effective, TTS was reported to affect about two to three people per 100,000 people vaccinated with the Vaxzevria vaccine.

Some research has linked COVID-19 viral vector-based vaccines, such as Vaxzevria, to an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome by three to four times compared to mRNA-based vaccines.

The Epoch Times contacted AstraZeneca for comment.

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