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AstraZeneca restarts COVID-19 vaccine trial

AstraZeneca restarts COVID-19 vaccine trial
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The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca announced Saturday that they are resuming a trial in the U.K. of an experimental coronavirus vaccine after the trial was paused this week to probe a “potentially unexplained illness” in one of the participants.

Oxford said in a statement to The Hill that the independent review is over and that the trail can recommence on the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the U.K. regulator, the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority.

Oxford said it cannot “cannot disclose medical information about the illness for reasons of participant confidentiality” but remains “committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our studies and will continue to monitor safety closely.”

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“AstraZeneca is committed to the safety of trial participants and the highest standards of conduct in clinical trials,” added AstraZeneca. “The Company will continue to work with health authorities across the world and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume to provide the vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic.” 

Neither Oxford nor AstraZeneca remarked on the status of trials outside of the U.K. Oxford said about 18,000 people have received “study vaccines” as part of the trials thus far.

Temporary pauses in tests are common, though this week’s announcement garnered significant attention given the rapid pace of the experiment to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

AstraZeneca is one of three companies that have phase three coronavirus vaccine trials ongoing in the United States, along with Pfizer and Moderna. This week’s pause was the first such interruption in any of the trials. 

The vaccine being tested by AstraZeneca and Oxford is a weakened version of a common cold virus combined with genetic material that is used to make proteins found in the COVID-19 virus, with the goal of making “the body recognize and develop an immune response,” according to the university.