by Silviu “Silview” Costinescu_ Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Best report I’ve found on this so far comes from, surprisingly, Australia’s ABC. I’m going to reproduce it below, together with the only video report I’ve found so far, coming from Wisconsin’ Channel 3000 / News 3 Now. It seemed more important to report this quickly than to add my personal touch to it, so here:

Late-stage trials for a leading coronavirus vaccine have been suspended after a study participant suffered a “potentially unexplained illness”.

Key points:

  • Australia has an agreement with AstraZeneca to secure the vaccine, if trials prove successful
  • The drug maker says it “voluntarily paused” the trial to allow a review by an independent committee
  • The Deputy Chief Medical Officer says the move “by no means puts that vaccine completely off the table”

AstraZeneca has put on hold trials of a vaccine being developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

The Australian Federal Government last month signed an agreement with the UK-based company to secure the potential COVID-19 vaccine, if its trials prove successful.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said it “voluntarily paused” the trial to allow a review of the “single event” by an independent committee.

“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,” the statement said.

“In large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.”

The Australian Government had secured 33.8 million doses of the Oxford vaccine for local manufacturing.

It also locked in 51 million doses of a potential vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland and CSL.

The potential total 84 million doses would be rolled out, free of charge, in stages across next year, pending successful trials.

Norman Swan says it’s important to investigate whether the adverse reaction is related to the vaccine or a random error.

50,000 participating in Oxford’s trials

The Oxford vaccine produced an immune response in its first human trials, underlining its position as one of the leading candidates in the race to combat a virus that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and crippled the global economy.

An employee wears a mask, goggles and hairnet at the Brazilian trials for the potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford.
Some trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine are conducted, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.(Reuters: Amanda Perobelli)

Late last month, AstraZeneca began recruiting 30,000 people in the United States for its largest study of the vaccine.

It also is testing the vaccine in thousands of people in Britain, and in smaller studies in Brazil and South Africa.

The trial’s lead scientist, Andrew Pollard, previously said trial data for the possible vaccine could potentially be given to regulators this year.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said the move “by no means puts that vaccine completely off the table”.

“It would be fairly standard process if there’s a very severe reaction and they are not sure whether it’s attributable to the vaccine or not, to gather the information and holding the trial for the moment,” he said on Seven’s Sunrise program.

“We’ve got to keep in mind the tens of thousands of people have now received this vaccine, so this is a testimony to the rigor and the safety focus that people are putting on vaccine development.”

He said the Government was investing in “multiple technologies, multiple potential vaccines” to offset setbacks encountered by any single vaccine.

There are more than 160 vaccine candidates in various stages of development around the world.

Two vaccines are in huge, final-stage tests in the United States — one made by Moderna Inc and the other by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

Those two vaccines work differently than AstraZeneca’s, and the studies already have recruited about two-thirds of the needed volunteers.

AstraZeneca’s US-traded shares fell more than 6 per cent in after-hours trading following reports of the trial being paused.