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Oxford COVID-19 vaccine: Still aiming for it by year-end, says AstraZeneca CEO

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said that the decision to resume the coronavirus vaccine trials rests with a group of independent experts who are working to understand if the volunteer's condition was coincidental or a result of the inoculation

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | September 11, 2020 | Updated 13:09 IST
Oxford COVID-19 vaccine: Still aiming for it by year-end, says AstraZeneca CEO
A test tube labelled with the 'vaccine' in front of AstraZeneca logo. (Photo for representation: Reuters)

UK-based pharma giant AstraZeneca Plc's CEO Pascal Soriot has said that the company is still aiming for the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to be ready by this year-end.

Speaking during an online conference on Thursday, he sought to reassure investors after halting the late-stage clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine because of a possible adverse reaction in a study participant.

AstraZeneca is developing a vaccine candidate- AZD1222- in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Also Read: Don't panic! Oxford coronavirus vaccine trials halted not cancelled

"What we have here is a special set of circumstances where the whole world becomes involved in the conduct of a clinical trial," Soriot stated in his first public comments since the clinical test was paused earlier this week, Bloomberg reported.

He further added that the decision to resume the trials rests with a group of independent experts who are conducting a review of safety data whereby they are working to understand if the volunteer's condition was coincidental or a result of the vaccine. Soriot stated that there is no choice for now, but to be "very patient and see how it unfolds".

AstraZeneca suspended late-stage trials of its coronavirus vaccine this week after an illness in a participant in Britain. The patient was reportedly suffering from symptoms associated with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.

Also Read: Oxford coronavirus vaccine trials paused after UK patient falls ill: What now?

Soriot said during an online event that AstraZeneca did not yet know the diagnosis, adding that it was not clear if the volunteer had transverse myelitis and more tests were needed.

He said the diagnosis would be submitted to an independent safety committee and this would usually then tell the company whether trials could be resumed.

Soriot said that the potential vaccine, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has flagged as the most promising for coronavirus, that it was usual for a trial to be suspended.

"It's very common, actually, and many experts will tell you this," Soriot said, adding, "The difference with other vaccine trials is, the whole world is not watching them, of course. They stop, they study, and they restart."

AstraZeneca would supply vaccines to countries at the same time to ensure a fair and equitable distribution, Soriot said, adding that the company was close to having the capacity to produce 3 billion doses at sites set up around the world to prevent governments from restricting distribution.

Also Read: Coronavirus vaccine: Govt plans to manufacture Russia's Sputnik V in India

Also Read: Coronavirus vaccine: Army, frontline workers may get it first; COVAXIN to be ready by year end

Also Read: Serum pauses India COVID-19 vaccine trials till further instructions from DCGI

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