December target for COVID-19 Vaccine still on track despite set-back

Brussels Plays Down Claims That It Plans To Sue AstraZeneca
Brussels Plays Down Claims That It Plans To Sue AstraZeneca image: Twitter

The trial of an Oxford coronavirus vaccine tipped to be the frontrunner in the fight against the pandemic could resume within days after it was halted due to an ‘unexplained illness’.

Vaccine trial suspended


AstraZeneca says it has suspended trials of the coronavirus vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford after one of the trials’ volunteers fell ill with an unexplained illness. The company has confirmed it had had to pause development of the vaccine “to allow a review of safety data”.

Virologist Chris Barbara said that the first delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine is still expected in Malta in December, despite a pause in clinical trials. The most advanced experimental vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University was put on hold on Tuesday after a volunteer developed an ‘unexplained illness’. Malta and other EU states will be acquiring doses of that vaccine and news of the postponed trials sparked fears that procurement will be delayed.

But Barbara said “no change is expected” to the December arrival. The plan, pending successful trials, is for vulnerable persons and front-liners to be immediately vaccinated first, before offering it to the community.

It is understood it was a British volunteer suffered an adverse reaction during the drug trial. Health industry website Stat, who first reported the vaccine pause, said the woman was on course to be discharged from hospital as early as last night. Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, described it as a “temporary pause”.

Four European countries have signed deals with AstraZeneca to secure sufficient doses of the vaccine when it is ready for general use.

Brazil trials Chinese vaccine

The governor of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state said that Phase 3 clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd have shown promising results and it may be available to Brazilians as early as December also.

Scientists say Russian trials too small

Russia has already approved a vaccine, and research published in The Lancet medical journal last week said patients involved in early tests developed antibodies with “no serious adverse events.” But scientists cautioned the trials were too small.


  1. The “setback” was described by Dr Vernon Colman online last night. One of the participants has suffered a condition which causes inflammation around the spine which can cause permanent paralysis. Please print this comment. people need to know the risks rather than just being fobbed off.


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