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AstraZeneca Chief Says Still Possible To Have Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine This Year

AstraZeneca Chief Says Still Possible To Have Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine This Year
The chief executive of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, has raised hopes that the company’s novel coronavirus vaccine could still be available by the end of the year, or early next year, despite the suspension of clinical trials for the vaccine candidate following the falling ill off a volunteer.
The trials for the vaccine were halted by the company on Wednesday in order to investigate the “potentially unexpected illness” of one participant. The vaccine candidates, one of the forerunners in the world as a vaccine against Covid-19, is being developed by the AstraZeneca and Oxford University, currently the third and the last stage of the clinical trials of it are ongoing on about 50,000 to 60,000 people around the world.
While not being able to confirm when the trials will resume again, Soriot said “I still think we are on track for having a set of data that we would submit before the end of the year” for regulatory approval. They “could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year”, depending on how fast the regulator moves, he added.
Pausing of clinical trials for vaccine candidates because of “adverse events” is not an uncommon or unusual event, said the AstraZeneca while speaking at an event hosted by the media group Tortoise.
“It’s very common, actually, and many experts will tell you this,” he said. “The difference with other vaccine trials is the whole world is not watching them. They stop, they study and they restart.”
Further testing would be conducted on the woman who has fallen ill after being administered the shot. An independent safety committee will then by handed over the data for it to assess the situation and decide whether trials can resume.
The woman who had fallen sick reportedly had neurological symptoms consistent with a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.
“We don’t know if it’s transverse myelitis … We don’t know what the final diagnosis is,” Soriot said.
While steroids can be used for treatment of transverse myelitis to reduce the inflammation, the health issue can be a permanent one.
A number of manufacturing partnerships around the world has been struck for the potential vaccine by AstraZeneca and is still confident that it will be able to manufacture about 3bn doses.
There would be enough vaccines for the entire world population, when the expected production volume of the one that is being developed by AstraZeneca is combined with the estimated volume of production of the other vaccines that are being developed by other pharmaceutical firms, Soriot said.
He said the vaccine would be supplied to countries at the same time to ensure fair and equitable distribution.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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