May 26, 2024

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca has withdrawn its marketing authorizations for its vaccine, Vaxzevria, within Europe.
Image: Gonzalo Fuentes (Reuters)

Cambridge, U.K.-based pharma giant AstraZeneca said on Wednesday that it is no longer producing or supplying its COVID-19 vaccine, known as Vaxzeveria, due to shrinking demand. The news comes as several pharma companies have also struggled with declining sales of their own COVID-19 jabs.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) updated its website on Wednesday, to say that the vaccine’s marketing authorization has been withdrawn. This means the vaccine can no longer be sold in European Union countries.

The company said low demand was the reason for the voluntary withdrawal.

“As multiple, variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines,” AstraZeneca said in emailed statement to Quartz. “This has led to a decline in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied. AstraZeneca has therefore taken the decision to initiate withdrawal of the Marketing Authorisations for Vaxzevria within Europe.”

AstraZeneca added, that it was “incredibly proud” of the vaccine. The company said the vaccine helped save an estimated 6.5 million lives during the first year of its launch. Vaxzeveria was developed with University of Oxford and was among the first COVID-19 vaccines to hit the market during the pandemic.

Falling COVID-19 vaccine sales

AstraZeneca is not alone in seeing demand for its COVID-19 vaccine drop.

This week, Moderna reported that sales of its COVID-19 vaccine fell 91% in the first quarter of 2024 to $167 million.

Similarly, sales of Pfizer’s COVID-19 jab fell 88% to $354 million in the first quarter.

In the United States, only 14% of the population received an updated 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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