Multiple pharamceutical companies are working with various governments to create a COVID-19 vaccine. One of the front runners is AstraZeneca, who have announced the “routine pause” of its trial as there has been a case of “unexplained illness” with a participant.

The outcome of its vaccine trial is being keenly observed across the world, as the AstraZeneca-Oxford University  solution is regarded as a strong global contender. As Phase 1 and 2 testing were successful, many were hoping that this one would be the first vaccine on the market.

Its Phase 3 testing involves a total of 30 000 participants from the United States of America, the United kingdom as well as Brazil and South Africa. The third phase of vaccine trials often have thousands of participants and can last for years.

According to Stat News, a health website that first broke the story on AstraZeneca’s participant being ill, the details of the participant’s reaction to the vaccine are not yet known but they are expected to make a recovery.

A statement from AstraZeneca to Stat News stipulated that a “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data”. As a result, the study has been halted.

“The pause 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 spokesperson also said that the company is “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” the pharmaceutical company said. 

While clinical holds are not uncommon, it is not yet confirmed how long the AstraZeneca pause will last.

Currently, there are nine vaccine candidates that are in the Phase 3 trial. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was the first in the world to reach this stage.

AstraZeneca began its Phase 3 trial in the US in late August. The US trial is currently taking place at 62 sites across the country. Phase 2 and 3 trials also started in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa.

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.