CORONAVIRUS

AstraZeneca halt global Covid-19 Oxford vaccine trial

AstraZeneca Plc has put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine candidate after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant.

AstraZeneca halt global Covid-19 Oxford vaccine trial
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS AFP

AstraZeneca Plc has put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine candidate (also known as the 'Oxford vaccine') after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant, health news website Stat News reported.

It quoted an AstraZeneca spokesperson as saying in a statement that the "standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

The study is testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford researchers at sites including the United States and the United Kingdom, where the adverse event was reported.

The nature of the safety issue and when it happened were not immediately known, although the participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News with a subsequent report in the New York Times citing a person familiar with the situation maintaining that a participant based in the United Kingdom was found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections.

A source at a major pharmaceutical company confirmed that a case of transverse myelitis during trails of this nature would be a cause of concern when developing a vaccine.

The report said suspension of the trial was having an impact on other AstraZeneca vaccine trials - as well as on clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine makers.

Nine leading U.S. and European vaccine developers pledged on Tuesday to uphold scientific safety and efficacy standards for their experimental vaccines despite the urgency to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

General view is pictured of the offices of British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC in Macclesfield, Cheshire

UK reaction to vaccine pause

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday that AstraZeneca's decision to pause its coronavirus vaccine trials was a challenge but would not necessarily set back efforts to develop a vaccine.

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock

AstraZeneca Plc said it had paused global trials, including large late-stage trials, of its experimental coronavirus vaccine due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

"It is obviously a challenge to this particular vaccine trial," Hancock said on Sky News when asked about the pause in the trial. "It's not actually the first time this has happened to the Oxford vaccine."