Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trials resume after patient fell ill

Andrew Cummings
September 14, 2020

According to a statement by AstraZeneca on Saturday, an independent expert committee in the United Kingdom set up to review the issue had concluded its investigations and recommended to the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that the trials are "safe to resume".

The UK committee concluded its investigations and recommended to the MHRA that trials in the UK are safe to restart.

However, the latest note added, "AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, as the trial sponsor, can not disclose further medical information".

The fact that some pharmaceutical companies delegate the risks associated with their vaccines to countries which buy them raises additional questions, the RDIF chief said.

Because of the pandemic, US health officials and drugmakers have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.

Phase III clinical trials of a vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd are under way in the state of Sao Paulo, whose governor said last week it may be available to Brazilians as early as December. Will we have a Vaccine before the Election?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca study had previously been stopped in July for several days after a participant developed neurological symptoms that turned out to be an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis that researchers said was unrelated to the vaccine.

AstraZeneca's vaccine uses a monkey adenovirus that shares a gene with the Covid-19 coronavirus - a platform that hasn't been subjected to any long-term studies. Volunteers from some of the worst affected countries - Britain, Brazil, South Africa and the USA - are taking part in the trial. Trials are also planned in Japan and Russian Federation.

One of these is the vaccine being trialled at the university along with AstraZeneca and is among the most promising candidates in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Once injected into the muscle, the body's own cells are instructed to make copies of a spiky protein on the coronavirus.

The nature of the disease has not been disclosed, but the trial participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News, which was the first to report the suspension of trials. But the company said it will continue to work with health authorities across the world so that other clinical trials can resume.

The disease has killed more than 900,000 people worldwide since surfacing in China late a year ago, according to an AFP count.

In Britain, infection rates are again surging in line with the rising trend seen of late in the rest of Europe, forcing the government to tighten public restrictions from Monday and impose local lockdowns.

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