Scientists and many others across the world expressed relief this week after trials were restarted last Saturday for the Oxford University–Astra Zeneca coronavirus vaccine.
Slated to be released around the end of this year, hundreds of millions of doses of the desperately-needed vaccine were already set to be manufactured until a pause was called for on September 6, during the last phase of clinical trials.
Approximately 30,000 individuals from the UK, Europe and the US are now involved in the third and final phase of vaccine trials. Out of that number, one person in the UK developed an adverse reaction to the substance, and trials were halted until the subject’s condition became clearer.
Now Oxford University and Astra Zeneca have restarted the all-important trials, and hopes are rising once again that Europe, and perhaps the rest of the world, may be able to take advantage of the vaccine before the year is out.
Experts had cautioned after the clinical pause that this type of action was not unusual in drug and vaccine trials, and in fact the setback only shows that extreme caution is being taken with this enormous study.
Klaus Stöhr, a retired influenza researcher who once served as the chief of the World Health Organization’s research and epidemiology division for SARS, a virus related to the coronavirus, expressed his satisfaction with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca’s resumption of the trial.
“Like anybody else who knows the importance of vaccines, I am very happy that the trial will continue,” he told interviewers from the science journal Nature.
However, the exact reasons behind the pause in administering the experimental vaccine were never disclosed, and this has some scientists criticizing the decision-making process on the part of the vaccine’s creators.
A vaccine specialist at France’s national health research institute, INSERM, states that she wishes all the groups working on this and any other coronavirus vaccine would share more information regarding any pauses in clinical trials in the future.
Marie-Paule Kieny stated in the Nature article that ideally, there should be a great deal more transparency when dealing with any such procedure. “When ultimately a vaccine will be made available, public trust will be paramount to ensure public-health impact. And trust needs transparency,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Brazilian health officials stated that trials of the vaccine there restarted on Monday. At this time, however, it is still unclear when such trials may resume in the United States.