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May 8, 2024 COVID Toxic Exposures News

COVID

AstraZeneca Begins Withdrawing COVID Vaccines Worldwide, Says Decision Not Linked to Lawsuit

AstraZeneca is a defendant in a class-action lawsuit in the U.K. by 51 claimants alleging serious injuries from the drug. Twelve of the claimants are acting on behalf of a loved one who allegedly died from vaccine-induced blood-clotting issues.

astrazeneca covid vaccine bottle and word "withdrawn"

AstraZeneca on Tuesday said it has begun a worldwide withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, Reuters reported.

In a statement, the company said it is withdrawing the drug because there is a “surplus of available updated vaccines” adapted for new variants of the virus. The new drugs created a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, it said, which is no longer manufactured or supplied.

The announcement comes just months after the drugmaker admitted in legal documents submitted to the U.K. High Court that the drug “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS.”

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) — also referred to as vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia — is linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The condition causes the body to produce blood clots, which can be life-threatening.

AstraZeneca is a defendant in a class-action lawsuit in the U.K. by 51 claimants alleging serious injuries from the drug. Twelve of the claimants are acting on behalf of a loved one who allegedly died from vaccine-induced blood-clotting issues.

On March 5, the pharmaceutical giant voluntarily withdrew its European Union marketing authorization required for marketing a drug in the EU. The European Medicines Agency, on Tuesday, issued a notice that Vaxzevria is no longer authorized for use.

AstraZeneca will make similar withdrawal applications in the coming months in the U.K. and other countries that have approved the vaccine, The Telegraph reported.

AstraZeneca said the decision to withdraw the drug was not linked to its admission about TTS and that the timing was coincidental.

In a statement the company said:

“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 and over three billion doses were supplied globally.

“Our efforts have been recognised by governments around the world and are widely regarded as being a critical component of ending the global pandemic. …

“We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Vaxzevria, also marketed as Covishield, uses viral vector technology, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 shots that use mRNA technology.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is made from another virus of the adenovirus family. The virus is modified to contain the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2, according to The Guardian.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

The drug was authorized for use in the U.K., Europe and Australia. It was approved for an emergency use listing by the World Health Organization and delivered to low- and middle-income countries through COVAX, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates heavily invested in the vaccine.

By late 2021, the AstraZeneca vaccine was largely replaced by the Pfizer and Moderna jabs in the EU, but as of January 2022, 2.5 billion doses of the drug had been administered worldwide.

The drug was never authorized in the U.S.

Side effects long known

Although AstraZeneca’s admission to the U.K. High Court in February marked the first time the company conceded that the shot could cause serious side effects, its dangers have been long known.

AstraZeneca is a U.K.-based company, previously known for its cancer drugs, and with little experience in vaccine development, according to CNN. It came under fire early in the rollout for mistakes during clinical trials, manufacturing issues and for withholding important information from public statements.

In late 2020, Boris Johnson, then-U.K. prime minister, called the vaccine a “triumph for British science.”

However, according to The Telegraph, “In the months following the rollout, the serious side effect of the AstraZeneca jab was identified by scientists.”

TTS has since been linked to at least 81 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries in the U.K. AstraZeneca disputes the allegations that its vaccine causes vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis.

If the plaintiffs prevail, the U.K. government will have to pay any settlements, because the government granted the vaccine maker legal indemnity.

In 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency confirmed a possible link between Vaxzevria and vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, according to The BMJ. Over the course of that year, many countries stopped using the shot.

For example, in April 2021, the U.K. stopped administering the vaccine to those under 30. The following month, it stopped administering the vaccine to people under 40, The Telegraph reported.

In March 2021, Germany stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under 60 citing the risk of “rare blood clots,” while the following month, Denmark withdrew the vaccine entirely due to the blood clot link.

Also in March 2021, the U.S. Data and Safety Monitoring Board suggested AstraZeneca may have provided “outdated information” to U.S. authorities, which provided “an incomplete view” of the results of its clinical trials.

In May 2021, Brazil suspended the shots for pregnant women after an expected mother died from a stroke possibly related to the vaccine. That same month, The BMJ published a study confirming evidence of blood clotting and finding a small risk after receiving just one dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Despite these known dangers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in December 2021 that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “excellent,” adding that “there is no indication to not use it.”

The WHO reiterated these claims in June 2022, saying the AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe and effective for all individuals aged 18 and above.”

However, despite that disclosure, AstraZeneca sold almost $4 billion worth of the drug worldwide in 2021. Profits plummeted over the next couple of years as the Pfizer and Moderna shots captured the market.

Even though clinicians and the public have known about the serious potential side effects of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19, the court documents were the first admission by the company to the injured that serious side effects existed.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said: “Our sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones or reported health problems. Patient safety is our highest priority, and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines.”

Yet the company continues to maintain the vaccine had an “acceptable” safety profile.

Lawyers for the complainants said in a statement, “Regrettably it seems that AstraZeneca, the Government and their lawyers are more keen to play strategic games and run up legal fees than to engage seriously with the devastating impact that the vaccine has had upon our clients’ lives.”

Vaccine-induced blood-clotting isn’t the only side effect associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Brianne Dressen — a preschool teacher from Saratoga Springs, Utah — in 2020 volunteered to participate in AstraZeneca’s clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine. Now, she says, she is “collateral damage of the pandemic.”

After receiving the AstraZeneca shot, Dressen experienced extensive adverse effects — including doubled and blurry vision, severe sensitivity to sound and light, heart and blood pressure fluctuations and intense brain fog — that worsened over time.

She later became co-chair of React19, a nonprofit that supports people injured by vaccines.

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