AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine study is on hold after illness in the U.K.

DORAL, FL – The COVID-19 vaccine study conducted by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is on temporary hold after a subject in the U.K. fell ill.

The Washington Post reported an independent committee is currently investigating whether a case of spinal inflammation in a single British participant is linked to the vaccine.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, AstraZeneca said its “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

“The announcement yesterday about the AstraZeneca vaccine is a concrete example of how even a single case of an unexpected illness is sufficient to require a clinical hold for the trial in multiple countries,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, at a Senate hearing, as reported by the post.

This pause affects studies being conducted in the U.S, Britain, Brazil and South Africa. Just in the U.S. alone,where the largest study is under development, 30,000 people were recruited late last month for local clinical trials.

At the local level, the government has invested billions of dollars in an attempt to develop multiple vaccines against COVID-19 as soon as possible and there are already two vaccines in the final-stage tests; one developed by Moderna Inc. and the other by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. 

According to the Associated Press, temporary pauses of large medical studies are common as it is mandatory to investigate any serious or unexpected reaction to a vaccine.

In this particular case, AstraZeneca explained there’s a possibility the problem is a coincidence as illnesses can occur in studies conducted with thousands of people.

“We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” the company statement said.

AstraZeneca’s U.S.-traded shares fell more than 6% in after-hours trading after the company announced its COVID-19 vaccine study has stopped. 

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