Phase 3 testing of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has been paused following an adverse reaction suffered by a UK trial participant.
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said that it had voluntarily put the study on hold, saying the “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”
An initial statement from AstraZeneca described the reaction experienced by a trial participant as an ‘unexplained illness’. The company said;
“In large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be indepedently reviewed to check this carefully. We are working to expediete the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. We are committted to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”
The pausing of the study has been described as a ‘routine action’, though some fear it could be a significant setback if the timeline of the trial is impacted or if a serious side effect is found from the vaccine.
The pausing of clinical trials is not uncommon, though it is unknown how long the pause may last. Trails had been taking place at sites across the UK, US, Brazil and South Africa to test the vaccine.
A global race has been ongoing to try and find a COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has so far been a frontrunner in the race. The UK is among a list of countries to have signed up to purchase millions of doses from AstraZeneca, in the hope that the vaccine being developed is safe, effective and approved for use.