The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca which is behind the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine halted its large, late-stage global trials on Tuesday because of a serious suspected adverse reaction in a participant, the company announced. However, nothing is known yet whether the reaction was directly caused by the company’s vaccine or was coincidental.
This pause will allow the British-Swedish company to take stock of the safety review and investigate whether the vaccine caused the illness. They haven’t mentioned how long the hold will last.
Across the globe, drug companies are racing against time to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine that could assuage the pandemic that has already claimed more than 890,000. In this, AstraZeneca is a front-runner, with late-stage clinical trials underway around the world, including India. It is expected that a vaccine would be ready before the end of the year.
However, if the cause of the reaction turns out to be related to the vaccine, those efforts could be wasted.
Vaccine testing at the late-stage is very crucial because they can turn up rare but serious side effects that would surface only if many thousands of people received a vaccine.
On the other hand, AstraZeneca, in a statement described the trial’s halt as a “routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.” Even in India, the trials would be put on hold until fresh directions come from the parent company spearheading the whole process of trials.