LONDON (NEWSnet/AP) — The pharma giant AstraZeneca has requested that the European authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine be pulled, according to the EU medicines regulator.

In an update on the European Medicines Agency's website Wednesday, the regulator said that the approval for AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria had been withdrawn “at the request of the marketing authorization holder.”

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was first given the nod by the EMA in January 2021; but its usage faded mid languishing support.

Within weeks of introduction, concerns emerged about that vaccine's safety. Dozens of countries suspended the vaccine's use after unusual, but rare, blood clots were detected in a small number of immunized people. The EU regulator concluded AstraZeneca's shot didn't raise the overall risk of clots, but doubts remained.

Partial results from its first major trial were later found to be clouded by a manufacturing mistake that researchers didn’t immediately acknowledge. Insufficient data about how well the vaccine protected older people had in the meantime led some countries to initially restrict its use to younger populations.

The U.K.'s national coronavirus immunization program in 2021 heavily relied on AstraZeneca's vaccine, which was largely developed by scientists at Oxford University with significant financial government support. Billions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine also were distributed to through a U.N.-coordinated program to countries that needed an option that was inexpensive and easy to distribute as compared to a newer methodology using messenger RNA doses.

Studies later suggested that the more expensive messenger RNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna provided better protection against COVID-19 and its many variants, and most countries have since switched to that formulation.

Even Britain later made the shift to mRNA vaccines for its COVID booster vaccination programs and the AstraZeneca vaccine is now rarely used globally.

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