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AstraZeneca to withdraw COVID vaccine globally as demand dips

Illustration of COVID-19 vaccine vial

(Reuters) -AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it had initiated the worldwide withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine due to a "surplus of available updated vaccines" since the pandemic.

The company also said it would proceed to withdraw the vaccine Vaxzevria's marketing authorizations within Europe.

"As multiple, variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines," the company said, adding that this had led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied.

According to media reports, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has previously admitted in court documents that the vaccine causes side-effects such as blood clots and low blood platelet counts.

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The firm's application to withdraw the vaccine was made on March 5 and came into effect on May 7, according to the Telegraph, which first reported the development.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), which produced AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine under the brand name Covishield, stopped manufacturing and supply of the doses since December 2021, an SII spokesperson said.

London-listed AstraZeneca began moving into respiratory syncytial virus vaccines and obesity drugs through several deals last year after a slowdown in growth as COVID-19 medicine sales declined.

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar, Maria Ponnezhath and Gursimran Kaur in Bengaluru and Rishika Sadam in Hyderabad; Editing by Pooja Desai and Shounak Dasgupta)