AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteer ‘had neurological symptoms’

AstraZeneca said a woman in the United Kingdom had symptoms consistent with a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder, which led to the British drugmaker's decision to stop its clinical study of the new coronavirus vaccine, Stat News has reported.

The participant was recovering and will likely be discharged from the hospital within a day, according to Stat News, which said on Wednesday the new disclosures by Astra Chief Executive Pascal Soriot were shared by three of the investors participating on conference calls.

AstraZeneca said the pause was “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials”.Credit:Bloomberg

The London-listed firm said late on Tuesday it would pause global trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate after an unexplained illness in a study participant.

"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 spokeswoman 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. In large trials illnesses will happen by chance, but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully."

A separate report from the Financial Times noted that AstraZeneca could resume trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine next week, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the reports.

The company's shares closed 0.5 per cent higher at 8,230 pence on Wednesday.

They slipped earlier in the day as the halt was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout of the vaccine hopeful seen among the leading candidates.

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