AstraZeneca Suspends COVID-19 Vaccine Trial After an Adverse Reaction to Participant

AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical group, has suspended global trials in the wake of its COVID-19 vaccine.

astrazeneca covid-19 vaccine trial suspended
AstraZeneca, took a joint pledge to “stand with science.” PHOTO via @BBC

As many competitors advance in the barrel in a match for a COVID-19 vaccine, a leading player AstraZeneca applies the brakes.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine trial suspended by AstraZeneca following a participant’s side effect.
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
  • President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressed for a vaccine to be approved on Election Day.

AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical group, has suspended global trials in the wake of its COVID-19 vaccine because it suspects a severe adverse reaction  in participants.

While the company is not yet sure if its vaccine sample caused a negative reaction, a brief pause will allow researchers to conduct a safety review to determine if their vaccine has anything to do with the participant’s disease.

Delay level test

Pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world are racing to develop a reliable vaccine for COVID-19. But AstraZeneca has emerged as the leader in this competition, with delayed phase trials  taking place around the world.

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Furthermore, the company hopes to have a vaccine ready for use by the end of 2020. But if the adverse reaction  turns out to be the result of their vaccination, their goal may be thwarted.

However, the detection of adverse reactions is the whole point of late-stage tests. Researchers are using this final phase of vaccine testing to prevent the rare and serious side effects of their drug. However, such side effects do not always show themselves if the pool of human participants is small.

Researchers usually find common side effects only after testing the drug on a few thousand people. Dr Phyllis Tien, an epidemiologist at the University of California, confirms the importance of late-stage testing.

“This is the whole point of doing Phase 2, Phase 3 tests,” says Dr Phyllis. “We need to evaluate safety and we will not know the effectiveness of it later. It is a good idea to suspend the investigation until the safety board finds out whether it is directly related to the vaccine.”

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There’s hope in science

President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressed for a vaccine to be approved on Election Day on November 3rd. But many were concerned that his administration could approve an unprepared vaccine to boost Trump’s political success. 

On Tuesday, however, nine pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, took a joint pledge to “stand with science.” This ensures that these companies do not make a vaccine available to the public until it has been thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy.

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