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AstraZeneca pulls COVID-19 vaccine from global markets

AstraZeneca Wednesday said it was pulling its Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine pictured here from sale globally for commercial reasons. The company has admitted in Britain's High Court that in rare cases the vaccine can cause the blood clotting disease TTS. File Photo by Luong Thai Linh/EPA-EFE
AstraZeneca Wednesday said it was pulling its Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine pictured here from sale globally for commercial reasons. The company has admitted in Britain's High Court that in rare cases the vaccine can cause the blood clotting disease TTS. File Photo by Luong Thai Linh/EPA-EFE

May 8 (UPI) -- British-Swedish drug maker AstaZeneca is pulling its Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine from sale globally.

The company has admitted it could cause rare blood clots but said the vaccine was pulled for commercial reasons.

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Vaxzevria is no longer being made.

The company already had moved to pull the vaccine from European Union markets, and that became effective Tuesday.

Kate Scott, whose husband, Jamie, suffered permanent brain injuries after getting the vaccine, is happy to see it removed from sale.

"AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine no longer being used in the U.K. or Europe, and soon the rest of the world, means no one else will suffer from this awful adverse reaction," she said. "They say it is for commercial reasons, but maybe it's because it can no longer be seen as being within the acceptable safety parameters, with 445 confirmed cases of VITT, 81 of these fatal in the U.K. alone."

VITT is Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis.

Jamie Scott was the first person to file legal action against AstraZeneca in Britain over the vaccine.

The company said, "As multiple variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed there's a surplus of available updated vaccines."

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After a class-action suit on behalf of 50 people was filed in Britain, the company said in High Court documents in February, "It is admitted that the AZ vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause TTS. The causal mechanism is not known."

TTS stands for Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said the vaccine has been a lifesaver despite the rare blood clotting problem.

"According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone," the company said.

In 2021 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study co-authored by McMaster University Ontario professor Dr. Theodore Warkentin that said the vaccine "appears to cause certain people to develop antibodies that target a protein in the human body called platelet factor 4 (PF4), which spurs platelets into action and activates a clotting cascade."

Those clotting effects are very rare.

Despite withdrawing the vaccine from sale AstraZeneca's statement said, "We are incredibly proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic."

The company said that multiple vaccines have since been developed for COVID-19, creating a surplus.

Britain stopped using the Oxford-created AstraZeneca and replaced it with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines starting at the end of 2021.

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