AstraZeneca has delayed providing shots of their experimental Covid-19 vaccination after one of the participants in the study has gotten sick. In a standard review of the trials, one person had an unexplained illness. This delay comes as a blow to what many consider to be one of the leading candidate developers. Stopping the administration of the experimental vaccines is meant to give researchers more time to examine the data present.
Michele Meixell , a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said, “This is 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,” She also said that it is now too early to determine the diagnosis of the patient.
Oxford University who is partnered with AstraZeneca for the development of the vaccine echoed their statements, saying it was part of a standard review to halt progress of the study. They said, “In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.”
Some researchers around the world have downplayed the significance of the halt. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and clinical-trials expert at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, said pauses like this in large trials are common, and that there is a high chance the sick patient may not even be related to the vaccine. Topol called this a safety precaution.
Paul Offit, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that the shot in the AstraZeneca trials involve giving large doses of the vaccine in an attempt to stop the virus from replicating. He believes it is important to determine whether the illness potentially was a reaction to that large of a dose. He said, “When you have that kind of viral load, you can have side effects.”
This news of setback comes on the heels of a group of scientists calling to question the validity of the review of the vaccine from Russia we noted in a previous blog, saying the results seem improbable. These are two examples of just how hard it has been to get a Covid-19 vaccine to the public as quickly as possible, and that’s not even mentioning the political stressors put on the vaccine development.
For more information and updates on the COvid-19 vaccine please check back regularly at the ABN Blog.