Did AstraZeneca withdraw COVID-19 vaccine over side effects?!

Did AstraZeneca just withdraw its Vaxzevria vaccine for COVID-19 over side effects?! Take a look at the viral claims, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : AstraZeneca Withdraws COVID-19 Vaccine Over Side Effects!

People are sharing articles with titles that appear to suggest that AstraZeneca just withdrew its COVID-19 vaccine over side effects!

7NEWS Australia : AstraZeneca withdrawn worldwide over side effects

News.com.au : AstraZeneca vaccine withdrawn after fatal blood clot revelation

Some of the news articles have since been withdrawn, or had their titles amended, although screenshots exist of their original posts:

WION : AstraZeneca #Covidshield vaccine withdrawn globally after admitting rare side effects

Sky News : AstraZeneca withdrawn worldwide over side effects

In addition, people are claiming or suggesting on social media that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was withdrawn because it has dangerous side effects!

Avi Yemini : 🚨🚨 AstraZeneca finally WITHDRAW Covid vaccine worldwide, months after the pharmaceutical giant admitted for the first time in court documents that it can cause “a rare and dangerous” side effect.

Never forget how they cancelled anyone who questioned its safety.

Recommended : Did AstraZeneca mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Kill Many People?!

 

Truth : AstraZeneca Did Not Withdraw COVID-19 Vaccine Over Side Effects!

This is yet another example of misinformation created or promoted by anti-vaccine activists, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : AstraZeneca Withdrew COVID-19 Vaccine For Commercial Reasons

Let me start by pointing out that the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine for COVID-19 is now old and outdated.

It was developed by Oxford University in early 2020, and first approved in December 2020. Since then, billions of doses have been administered worldwide, saving millions of lives.

Unlike the mRNA vaccines, the Vaxzevria vaccine has not been updated to better deal with the newer Delta and Omicron variants. In fact, AstraZeneca stopped producing the vaccine as the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, and updated vaccines became available.

Hence, AstraZeneca withdrew its marketing authorisations for the Vaxzevria vaccine from the European market on 27 March 2024, and worldwide by 7 May 2024. As an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in a statement, it was a commercial decision:

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.

AstraZeneca also said that its withdrawal of marketing authorisations was not linked to its recent February 2024 legal submission acknowledging that its COVID-19 vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS“.

Recommended : Did Australia Just Ban AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine?!

Fact #2 : AstraZeneca Had Earlier Ceased Producing Vaxzevria

As newer vaccines that target the newer COVID-19 variants became available, there was no longer a need for first-generation COVID-19 vaccines like the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaxzevria. Hence, AstraZeneca ceased producing and supplying Vaxzevria.

For example, AstraZeneca stopped importing the Vaxzevria vaccine into Australia almost two years ago, with the last two batches (346753P1 and 347442P) being approved on 28 July 2022!

Obviously, that decision almost two years ago had nothing to do with the recent February 2024 legal submission acknowledging that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS“.

Fact #3 : AstraZeneca Vaccine TTS Risk Was Known Since 2021

Regardless of the AstraZeneca legal submission may imply, it has been acknowledged since April 2021 – 3 years ago, that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can potentially cause TTS in a very small number of people.

On top of that, it was not keyboard warriors or anti-vaccine activists who started warning people about TTS. It was health officials who first identified cases of TTS / VITT as early as March 2021 – just two months after the AstraZeneca vaccine was first deployed.

By April, the evidence was clear enough that health officials started warning people about the risk of TTS / VITT, and restricting the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 30. They only offered the vaccine to people over 40 in May 2021.

Fact #4 : AstraZeneca Vaccine TTS Risk Was Very Low

Even though health officials were aware of the TTS risk by April-May 2021, they continued to offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine because the risk was judged to be extremely low – about one in 30 million.

Far fewer people – maybe one in 600,000, would die from TTS. In the United Kingdom, about 81 people died from blood clot complications linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, after about 50 million doses were administered.

In August 2021, the Australian Academy of Sciences issued this infographic, in which it compared the risk of dying from TTS to other common risks.

Recommended : AstraZeneca Vaccine Blood Clot Risk : How Dangerous Is It?

Fact #5 : COVID-19 Blood Clot Risk Was Much Higher

What you may not know is that COVID-19 infections greatly increases the risk of developing blood clots – up to 41% in positive patients, and up to 95% in severe COVID-19 cases.

Blood clots can also develop (through different mechanisms) with smoking and the use of oral contraceptive pills (OCP). Back in May 2021, we created this table to better demonstrate the risk:

Risk Difference
Thrombocytopenia in
severe COVID-19 cases
Up to 95% 45,238X
Thrombocytopenia
in COVID-19 cases
Up to 41% 19,524X
Dying from COVID-19 Infection 0.25% to
10%
119X to 4762X
Thrombosis from OCP
(Adult)
Up to 0.46% 219X
Thrombosis from Smoking 0.18% 85.7X
Thrombosis from OCP
(Adolescents)
Up to 0.01% 4.8X
Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia
(AstraZeneca Vaccine)
0.0021% Baseline

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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