Story at a glance

  • Reuters reported on Wednesday that Brazilian health regulator Anvisa announced a participant in the late-stage clinical trial had died.
  • Reuters cited a Brazilian news outlet that reported the volunteer had been part of the placebo group and did not receive the vaccine candidate.
  • AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is one of four in the U.S. that have reached the final stage of testing in the U.S.

A volunteer who was part of AstraZeneca’s and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine trial died in Brazil, according to Reuters

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Brazilian health regulator Anvisa announced a participant in the late-stage clinical trial had died but that the trial would continue. The regulator provided no further details. 


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The news outlet reported Oxford University confirmed the trial will move forward in Brazil, saying there have been “no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” 

Reuters cited a Brazilian news outlet that reported the volunteer had been part of the placebo group and did not receive the vaccine candidate. It’s unclear at this time how the participant died. It’s the first known fatality among COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers. 

Following the news, AstraZeneca shares were down 1.8 percent, Reuters reports. 

AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is one of four in the U.S. that have reached the final stage of testing in the U.S. 

The company paused all trials of the vaccine around the world in early September after two participants in late-stage trials in the U.K. developed unexplained neurological illnesses. Oxford University said the illnesses were unlikely to be associated with the vaccine. 

AstraZeneca has since restarted trials in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa but they remain on hold in the U.S. 

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson last week temporarily paused its late-stage clinical trials for a vaccine. The company halted the phase three trial due to an “unexplained” illness in one of its volunteers. It’s unclear what the illness was and whether the participant received the experimental vaccine or was given the placebo. 

Health officials have estimated a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine could be made available to high-risk groups before the year is out. A vaccine isn’t likely to be broadly available to all Americans until several months into 2021. 


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Published on Oct 21, 2020