AstraZeneca, Oxford resume COVID-19 vaccine trials after one fell ill

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Sept. 12 (UPI) — AstraZeneca and Oxford University resumed COVID-19 vaccine trials Saturday after a volunteer in the trial fell ill a six days ago, triggering a pause.

The Britain-based pharmaceutical company said in a statement that trials have resumed because the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority has confirmed that it was “safe to do so.”

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AstraZeneca, which has been working with the University of Oxford as the trial sponsor, announced a pause in the global trials after one of its volunteers fell ill with an unexplained illness Sunday.

The trial was paused across Britain, South Africa and the United States to allow for an independent committee to look over safety data.

The volunteer experienced neurological symptoms linked to a rare spinal inflammatory disorder transverse myelitis.

The potential COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222, was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech, through the used of weakened version of the common cold virus in chimpanzees, according AstraZeneca’s statement.

The pause came a week after AztraZeneva said it started Phase III of clinical trials in the United States of its AZD1222 candidate. Some 30,000 U.S. adults were to be recruited for the trial, bringing its total volunteers to some 50,000 globally.

“AstraZeneca is committed to the safety of trial participants and the highest standards of conduct in clinical trials,” the pharmaceutical giant said in its statement. “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.”

Of roughly 200 COVID-19 vaccines in global development, eight are in the final phase of clinical trials, including AstraZeneca’s Oxford vaccine which is “right at the front” of the global efforts, Britain’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, said.

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Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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