AstraZeneca to withdraw Covid vaccine

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After Saving Millions of Lives, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine is Being Phased Out

The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which has been administered over 3 billion times, is being withdrawn from use, AstraZeneca has announced. The pharmaceutical company expressed immense pride in the vaccine’s impact, but cited a commercial decision to cease production.

The rise of new COVID-19 variants has led to a shift in demand towards updated vaccines that better match the circulating strains. While the AstraZeneca vaccine was credited with saving millions of lives during the pandemic, it also carried a rare but serious risk of blood clots.

Developed by scientists at the University of Oxford in record time – a process typically taking 10 years was compressed to just 10 months – the AstraZeneca vaccine was hailed as a “vaccine for the world” in late 2020. Its affordability and ease of storage made it a cornerstone of many countries’ vaccination plans, including the UK’s.

“The truth is it made an enormous difference, it was what lifted us out of the catastrophe that was unfolding at the time, combined with the other vaccine from Pfizer,” said Professor Adam Finn of the University of Bristol.

However, the vaccine’s reputation suffered as the rare blood clot side effect came to light, leading the UK to seek alternative options. AstraZeneca estimates the vaccine saved over 6.5 million lives in its first year of use alone, and says its efforts have been recognized globally as critical to ending the pandemic.

But the emergence of new COVID variants that have evolved away from the original vaccines has rendered the AstraZeneca shot less useful, according to Professor Finn. “It’s turned out that this virus is very agile and it’s evolved away from the original vaccines, so they have in a sense become irrelevant and only the reformulated vaccines are likely to be being used now,” he said.

With a surplus of updated vaccines now available, AstraZeneca has decided to cease manufacturing and supplying the original COVID-19 vaccine. Its legacy, however, will be the millions of lives it helped save during the darkest days of the pandemic.

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