Oxford University Covid vaccine trial put on hold

The development of a promising Covid-19 vaccine has been put on hold due to an adverse reaction in a trial participant. A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working with a team from Oxford University, told the Guardian the trial has been stopped to review the “potentially unexplained illness” in one of the participants.

The spokesman stressed the adverse reaction was only recorded in a single participant, and said pausing trials was common during vaccine development. “As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The Oxford University vaccine, which is to be administered over several doses, has entered phase three trials in the UK, US, Brazil, South Africa and India, and had previously generated strong immune responses. The UK government struck an early deal for the vaccine, later ramping up its order to 100 million doses.

On Tuesday, academics involved in the trial wrote that it was one of six Covid-19 vaccines in the world currently in phase three, the final step before a vaccine is approved. They wrote that the vaccine was being tested in health workers in the UK, as well as volunteers from the public who are over 70. As of Tuesday, 17,000 people across the UK, Brazil and South Africa had already been vaccinated.

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