AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company developing a COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University researchers, suspended providing shots of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine after one person participating in the studies had an unexplained illness. This potential unfavorable reaction of the vaccine can delay or dismay efforts to expedite an immunization against coronavirus for the world.
The multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company said on Tuesday that it halted the late-stage trials of their vaccine trials to allow an independent committee to check data about safety. They are reviewing to minimize any potential impact on their research timeline.
The patient reportedly presented with neurological symptoms associated with transverse myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammatory disorder. AstraZeneca released a statement Wednesday that they are still waiting for a diagnosis as more tests are carried out. According to Francis Collins, the Director of U.S. National Institutes of Health Director, that work is still in progress to see if more people who received the vaccine presented with a similar finding of a spinal cord problem.
The vaccine trial suspension follows reports that the U.S. aimed for faster approval or authorization of a vaccine before the presidential election this November. Leading European and U.S. vaccine developers said on Tuesday that they are pledging to prioritize scientific safety and efficacy standards for the experimental vaccines and not get swayed by political pressures to rush the process. AstraZeneca has already decided to supply around three billion doses to governments around the world, showing how this vaccine project is of a large scale.
The British-Swedish company also confirmed that it had temporarily suspended the vaccine trial in July after a volunteer participant was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (M.S.). However, an independent review panel concluded that the M.S. was not related to the vaccine’s effects.
When asked whether the current suspension would affect the development process, Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that it depends on the investigation results. Britain’s medical regulator noted that it is carefully checking available information to see if the experimental trials can resume as soon as possible.
According to the Financial Times, they’ve talked with people associated with the trial saying that the test could resume as early next week as soon as the study’s independent data monitoring board is done with the investigation. However, AstraZeneca did not provide a statement on when the trial will be back in regular operation.