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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine study paused after 'potentially unexplained' illness

Last Updated Sep 9, 2020 at 6:53 am PDT

FILE - In this Saturday, July 18, 2020 file photo a general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. "We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody," said Dr. Adrian Hill. Hill said Oxford has partnered with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce their vaccine globally, and that the company has already committed to making 2 billion doses. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
Summary

AstraZeneca has paused its COVID-19 vaccine trial after a volunteer came down with an illness

The company says teams will now look into whether the 'potentially unexplained illness' was a side effect or not

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had been in late-stage studies of the vaccine in the UK

A global COVID-19 vaccine trial has been put on hold by major drug company AstraZeneca after a volunteer came down with what’s being described as a “potentially unexplained” illness.

The company is now trying to figure out if the illness is a side-effect of the vaccine, which was in the late stages of trials.

“As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled clinical trials of the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, a standard review process has been triggered, leading to the voluntary pause of vaccination across all trials to allow an independent committee to review the safety data of a single event of an unexplained illness that occurred in the UK Phase III trial,” a release posted on the company’s website reads.

The vaccine being tested was created by teams from both AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The company says the pause is “routine action” when a potentially unexplained illness arises in one trial.

“At AstraZeneca we put science, safety and the interests of society at the heart of our work,” CEO Pascal Soriot says in a release. “This temporary pause is living proof that we follow those principles while a single event at one of our trial sites is assessed by a committee of independent experts. We will be guided by this committee as to when the trials could restart, so that we can continue our work at the earliest opportunity to provide this vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic.”

It adds teams will be working to “expedite the review” in order to minimize the impacts of the delay on the trial.

The race to create a vaccine against COVID-19 has mobilized dozens of teams around the world, including in Canada.

Earlier this summer, the federal government inked a number of preliminary deals to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians when they become available.

There are currently dozens of vaccines in varying stages of clinical trials around the world.