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After suspending all their global trials for the COVID-19 vaccine last week, AstraZeneca said that they would be resuming their vaccine trial in the U.K.
The pharmaceutical giant said that a British medical regulator had recommended that the clinical trials are safe to continue after it was temporarily halted when a participant had an unexplained illness. The resumption of phase three of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.K. has raised hopes as one of the leading candidates in the development of a vaccine against coronavirus is finally back on track.
The pharmaceutical company said that they received a green light from the United Kingdom’s Medicine Health Regulatory Authority that it is safe to continue with their clinical trials. However, the company did not provide medical information concerning the trial’s halting but indicated last week that they are investigating an unexplained illness.
According to AstraZeneca, the vaccine trial’s customary review caused a “voluntary pause” to all their global tests on September 6 so that internal regulators and independent committees can review further the safety data. While clinical trials in the U.K. can now resume, clinical tests in other parts of the world remain unclear.
AstraZeneca said in a statement that the pharmaceutical company would continue to collaborate with health authorities across the globe and be guided when their other clinical vaccine trials can resume. They added that they wanted to provide a vaccine that will be broadly and equitably beneficial and at no profit during this difficult time.
According to the University of Oxford, which developed the COVID-19 vaccine together with AstraZeneca, some 18,000 people have received the vaccine in trials. It is expected that some of these participants will feel unwell, especially in large trials, said by Oxford in a statement. Every case will be carefully investigated to ensure an orderly assessment of safety.
As reported by STAT News earlier in the week, AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, stated in a private conference that the “potentially unexplained illness” was reported in a U.K. woman who manifested with neurological symptoms similar to transverse myelitis, a spinal inflammatory disorder. CEO Soriot added that AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial had been suspended once before in July after a participant manifested neurological symptoms, but was later found to be unrelated to the experimental vaccine.
The pharmaceutical giant’s highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, called AZD1222, is among the global race frontrunners toward an effective and safe vaccine that could put a dent to this pandemic. It is one of at least three potential vaccines, along with Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, in late-stage trials. The WHO officials have previously praised AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate as one of the most promising vaccines currently in development.