AstraZeneca asks for European authorisation of COVID vaccine to be pulled

AstraZeneca asks for European authorisation of COVID vaccine to be pulled

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has requested that the European authorisation for its COVID-19 vaccine be pulled, according to the EU medicines regulator.

In an update on the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) website Wednesday, the regulator said that the approval for AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria had been withdrawn "at the request of the marketing authorisation holder".

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was first given the nod by the EMA in January 2021.

Within weeks, however, concerns grew about the vaccine’s safety, when dozens of countries suspended the vaccine’s use after unusual but rare blood clots were detected in a small number of immunized people.

The EU regulator concluded AstraZeneca’s shot didn’t raise the overall risk of clots, but doubts remained.

Manufacturing mistake

Partial results from its first major trial - which Britain used to authorise the vaccine - were clouded by a manufacturing mistake that researchers didn’t immediately acknowledge.

Insufficient data about how well the vaccine protected older people led some countries to initially restrict its use to younger populations before reversing course.

Billions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were distributed to poorer countries through a UN-coordinated programme, as it was cheaper and easier to produce and distribute.

But studies later suggested that the pricier mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna provided better protection against COVID-19 and its many variants, and most countries switched to those shots.

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