AstraZeneca is partnering with University of Oxford in vaccine development trials which have been temporarily suspended as one of the participants developed serious neurological symptoms. However, University of Oxford later said in a briefing to participants that they did not come across substantial evidence that could lead towards the vaccine being the reason of such severe symptoms.
The trial had to be stopped and the procedure was reviewed on war footing when one of the participant registered unusual weakness in limbs and an altered state of mind which was also reflected in the results shared by the University of Oxford. Since then the trial data has been extensively reviewed and the involvement of shot in developing such symptoms has been ruled out.
University of Oxford has explained that after careful review of the trial population they have come up with two conclusions. One is that there has been no supporting evidence to relate the novel neurological symptoms to the vaccine trial. Secondly, there is lack of evidence to confirm or deny the role of vaccine candidate in causing neurological symptoms in trial population.
AstraZeneca and University of Oxford has also consulted reputed scientists and researchers in this regard, and they have unanimously decided to continue with the trial study.
A few takeaways: it’s not clear what the issue is, if it will have a meaningful impact on AstraZeneca’s trial, or the trials of other #Covid19 vaccine makers.
(Though stocks are reacting at least in short term as if this is a boon for Moderna, Novavax etc)
— Meg Tirrell (@megtirrell) September 8, 2020
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) September 8, 2020
Even after clearing the candidate vaccine from possible safety concerns the trials are still on hold in US and another unusual incident caused a temporary halt in UK trials so the US trials cannot resume before AstraZeneca and University of Oxford have cleared a Federal review. This incident has also sparked widespread uproar regarding the safety of vaccines undergoing trials in different phases all across the globe.
EXCLUSIVE: The National Institutes of Health has launched a probe of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. “The highest levels of NIH are very concerned,” one scientist says. https://t.co/H8I1pAKndt
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 15, 2020
The unprecedented urgency of developing a vaccine against coronavirus come with its own set of challenges and skepticism is at its peak as well. Although such interruption in testing is not uncommon as trials are designed to find the missing pieces of puzzle of an ideal vaccine but a trial as major as one being conducted by University of Oxford raises questions about the possible timeline of vaccine development pushed back to 2021 or even further.
According to AstraZeneca the neurological symptoms were encountered because of an underlying condition in the participating candidate. Similar comments were shared with the Senate Committee a week before when they were briefed about the possibility of an underlying CNS problem as the possible explanation for such incidents.
This is the second such occurrence during the current trials of the vaccine being tested by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford but officials from both have not reached out to comment on repeated occurrence of unexplained neurological illness so far.
AstraZeneca and University of Oxford are one of the leading entities working tirelessly to develop a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year. They are on a mission to shorten the time of vaccine development from years to months because of the unprecedented circumstances and to save global economies from collapsing and causing a domino effect.
Most of these companies are part of Operation Warp Speed initiated by the US to rapidly work towards development of a mass produced, safe, and effective vaccine shot by the end of this year.
Global leaders are impatiently looking towards these companies to successfully come up with a vaccine candidate as President Trump has repeatedly assured that a vaccine will be available well before the elections in November. This claim has since been criticized by US health experts including the head of CDC according to whom the vaccine deadline may well be pushed back to mid of 2021.
Other than US, AstraZeneca and University of Oxford have resumed their trials in UK after it was established that the vaccine trial and developed illness were not related. South African trials have also resumed as the safety review has exonerated the vaccine as the reason behind unlikely illness. In India, the regulatory approval after safety review has also been granted and Oxford aims to resume testing in a few days.
JUST IN: The University of Oxford is resuming U.K. trials of a coronavirus vaccine it’s developing, after pausing them because a participant got sick https://t.co/hUO1Nhuags
— Bloomberg (@business) September 12, 2020
— DNA (@dna) September 16, 2020