Monday, May 20, 2024
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AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine withdrawn

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has announced that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been withdrawn worldwide, citing a surplus of available updated vaccines that target new variants of the virus.

They said there has been a drop in demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine as it is less effective than newer vaccines against the latest variants.

The MOH said a statement by the Fiji Times stated that this vaccine was banned in Australia.

They further said the Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration stated on April 24th, 2024, that AstraZeneca had voluntarily canceled the vaccine from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and the cancellation of this vaccine from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods was a business decision of the company, due to no current or anticipated future demand for the vaccine, and follows similar business decisions made overseas.

The Ministry said the AstraZeneca vaccine (known as Vaxzevria or Covishield) was used in Fiji from March 2021 to February 2022, and its rapid rollout during the Delta outbreak in 2021 saved many lives.

The Health Ministry said the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been available in Fiji since February 2022, as stocks had depleted, and the Ministry had acquired the Moderna and then Pfizer vaccines, which were more effective against the Omicron variant.

They have also clarified that a new side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been discovered.

The MOH said a very rare but serious side effect of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a rare blood clotting disorder, is not a new risk.

They said the Ministry will continue to ensure that the latest in medications including vaccines are made available to the population, and any inherent risk associated with such medications and vaccines are communicated well to the public.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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