One of the leading coronavirus vaccine researchers, AstraZeneca, has encountered problems with their study and was forced to put it on hold after one participant was monitoring to have an adverse reaction.
Coronavirus vaccine on hold
The pharmaceutical company said that the hold of the vaccine was a routine pause conducted during an unexplained illness or condition. The incident comes as worldwide attention is focused on the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
According to the BBC, the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is one of the top contenders among dozens of research worldwide.
After successful Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials, AstraZeneca's vaccine was expected to be one of the first vaccines to complete studies and be distributed globally.
After moving to Phase 3 testings in recent weeks, the pharmaceutical company involved 30,000 participants from both the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, and South Africa to test its vaccine candidate's safety and efficacy.
The company announced that all international trial sites have been put on hold and that an independent investigation has begun. The inspection hopes to discover the study's safety data before regulators decide to approve the continuation of the trials.
A spokesperson for Oxford University said that illnesses and side effects are possible during large trials but cautioned that they must be reviewed independently.
The incident marks the second time the coronavirus vaccine of Oxford University has been placed on hold. The study's delay is a common occurrence during large trials and is imposed when a participant falls ill, and their condition is not fully known.
The world expected AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate to be ready by January 2021. It is one of two pieces of research that the Australian government set aside $1.7 billion for distribution to its citizens, as reported by The Guardian.
The Morrison government of Australia committed on Monday to purchasing 33.8 million doses of coronavirus vaccine if proven safe and effective.
After the announcement of the hold, Nick Coatsworth, Australia's deputy chief medical officer, said that the event did not altogether remove the vaccine from one of the leading positions of COVID-19 treatments.
Prioritizing safety and efficacy
During an interview, Coatsworth said that the incident is proof that despite the global acceleration of coronavirus vaccine development, safety is still the number one priority of the companies leading the race.
The official added that the pharmaceutical company has begun gathering information while the study is on hold. He cautioned that the process is conducted after several tens of thousands of people have already been injected with the trial vaccine, showcasing their focus on safety.
According to Aljazeera, a microbiology professor, Florian Krammer of the Icahn School of Medicine, the fact a participant showed adverse responses stressed the need for extensive trials. On Twitter, Krammer said the incident is proof that companies should conduct Phase 3 testings to ensure the vaccine's safety and efficacy.
While clinical holds are frequent, AstraZeneca's incident is the first Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine testing that has experienced such delay.
While it is unknown how long the study's suspension will last, the pharmaceutical company's stocks have fallen by more than six percent on the New York Stock Exchange.