AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said on Tuesday (May 7) it had initiated the worldwide withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine.

It said this was largely due to a "surplus of available updated vaccines" since the pandemic. The firm's application to withdraw the vaccine was made on March 5 and came into effect on May 7.

They said in a statement: “According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone and over 3bn 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.”

However, some publications have reported how the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker previously went on record to admit safety issues with the vaccine.

The vaccine was found to be safe and effective overall

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According to The Telegraph, the company previously admitted in court documents that the vaccine causes side effects such as blood clots and low blood platelet counts.

Although the vaccine was found to be safe and effective overall, it carried the risk of a rare but serious side effect, known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, or TTS.

The rare syndrome occurred in about two to three people per 100,000 who were vaccinated with the Vaxzevria vaccine.

Other countries have already stopped supplying the vaccine. It has not been available for use in Australia since March 2023.