Oxford COVID vaccine trial stopped; Company releases statement

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Advanced trials for one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University been put on hold across the globe. 

British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca revealed in a statement that the pause was just as “routine” measure as one of the vaccine volunteers had an adverse reaction, “an unexplained illness” in the UK and was subsequently admitted in the hospital.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine had moved its phase 3 testings in recent weeks with close to 30,000 participants involved in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

Even though the nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were not shared reports suggest that the affected participant is expected to recover. Clinical trial suspensions are not rare and are sometimes resumed within days. This is the second time the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial has been reportedly put on hold. It is unclear how long the current scenario might last.

An Oxford University spokesperson said that “In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.” Researchers running other trials are now looking for similar cases of adverse reactions by searching through databases reviewed by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board.

Earlier, global pharma giants including AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc and GlaxoSmithKline, issued what could be called a “historic pledge” amid growing concerns that safety standards might slip under immense political pressure to rush out a vaccine.

The companies said they would “uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines.”