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AstraZeneca, a large drug manufacturer, said Wednesday that it is withdrawing its COVID-19 vaccine from the market because of low demand. 

The vaccine, known as Vaxzevria, was not authorized in the US but had seen extensive global use, particularly in the initial stages of the international vaccination effort. Developed as a more cost-effective and distributable option than mRNA vaccines, Vaxzevria was crucial in early global vaccination strategies, primarily through the Covax program, which targets vaccine delivery to low- and middle-income countries.

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Over 3 billion doses of Vaxzevria were distributed worldwide after British regulators first approved it for emergency use in late 2020. The UK initially relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine and then shifted towards mRNA vaccines for later booster campaigns. 

 AstraZeneca’s spokesperson stated, “We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic. According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone.”

The company ceased production and requested the European Medicines Agency withdraw its licensing, which has already taken effect this week. The decline in demand was further impacted by reports of blood clots linked to the vaccine, which were identified shortly after its approval. Although these side effects were considered “rare,” they were significant enough for some countries to limit the vaccine’s use, as noted in updates to the product’s information in April 2021.


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