The British government has given the green light to pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to resume clinical trials of an emerging anti-coronavirus vaccine that they are jointly developing after a temporary suspension as a result of a volunteer developing health complications..
The company said, in a statement: “Clinical trials of the AstraZeneca-Oxford anti-corona virus vaccine have resumed in Britain, after verification by the government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority that it is safe to do so.”
On Wednesday, AstraZeneca announced that it had “voluntarily suspended” its trials of the vaccine, which it was developing in cooperation with Oxford, after a volunteer suffered unexplainable symptoms..
An independent committee was formed to review safety procedures, which the company and the World Health Organization described as a routine step.
The University of Oxford confirmed the resumption of the trials, and said: “In large trials like this, some participants are expected to have health problems, and each case must be carefully evaluated to ensure an accurate safety assessment.”
AstraZeneca said it was still hopeful that the vaccine would be available “by the end of this year or early next year.”
But pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, and scientists have expressed concern about political pressure exerted to speed up the development of a vaccine, not least from US President Donald Trump..
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for the US presidential election, accused Trump of “undermining people’s confidence” by raising the possibility that a vaccine might be ready before the election on November 3..
The potential AstraZeneca vaccine is one of nine vaccines around the world currently entering late phase III clinical trials.
The infection rates rose again in Britain, as happened in many parts of Europe, which forced the government of Boris Johnson to tighten general restrictions and impose closure measures, starting from Monday..
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