AstraZeneca announces global withdrawal of COVID-19 vaccine

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
May 08, 2024 |

AstraZeneca has announced a global withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine, attributing the decision to a decrease in demand.

It follows the company’s acknowledgment of potential adverse reactions to the vaccine.

AstraZeneca had acknowledged in court filings that the vaccine could lead to rare yet serious side effects, such as blood clots and low blood platelet counts.

On 7 May, the European Medicines Agency issued a notice that the vaccine is no longer authorised for use.

In March 2021 WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said there was no link between the jab and an increased risk of developing a clot. At the time she said it was an “excellent vaccine” and should continue to be used.

However, the pharmaceutical is being sued in a class action over claims that its vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, caused death and serious injury in dozens of cases.

The pharmaceutical said the worldwide withdrawal resulted from a “surplus of available updated vaccines” following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the development of multiple variant COVID-19 vaccines, there is now a surplus of updated vaccines,” AstraZeneca told Reuters.

The application for withdrawal was submitted on March 5, and the decision took effect on May 7.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in New Zealand with then acting COVID-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announcing on 29 July 2021 that MedSafe granted provisional approval for the vaccine for individuals 18 and over.

In a statement sent to Chris Lynch Media on Wednesday night, Medsafe Group Manager Chris James said “AstraZeneca changed the status of Vaxzevria in New Zealand to ‘not available’ in March 2023.

 “At that time they confirmed that product was last distributed in New Zealand in April 2022. Some product may have been in the distribution chain briefly following April 2022.

“Medsafe granted provisional approval for Vaxzevria from 29 July 2021, and renewed the provisional consent on 28 April 2022.

“Medsafe did not withdraw the provisional approval. However, the provisional consent expired on 29 Apr 2024.

AstraZeneca did not make an application to renew the consent at that stage, and the approval has subsequently lapsed.

There were 329 reports of suspected adverse reactions, with 1,868 reactions in those 329 reports.”

 ou can see more detail of the reactions in Medsafe’s Suspected Adverse Reaction Search tool, here: Suspected Medicine Adverse Reaction Search (

Health New Zealand has been approached for comment.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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