The World Health Organization (WHO) said that AstraZeneca's pause of an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus after the illness of a participant is a "wake-up call". The WHO also said that there was nothing to be discouraged about, since these kinds of incidents routinely happen during trials.
According to a report by Reuters, Dr Soumya Swaminathan called the pause in Oxford's clinical trial "a wake-up call" to the global community to realize "there are ups and downs in research." Swaminathan says early data in human vaccine candidates so far has been "quite promising," showing the shots trigger an immune response.
But she says trials must be conducted in tens of thousands of people to determine whether a vaccine can safely protect people from infection. "It could be that we see some results end of the year, it could be next year," she said. "We have to be a little bit patient and wait for the results."
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Wednesday expressed hopes that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus developed by the pharmaceutical company would be ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021, despite having to pause clinical trials.
Earlier this week, the UK-Swedish company reportedly froze the trials after discovering that one participant was sick with transverse myelitis. This condition results in the inflammation of parts of the spinal cord and may be caused by infections, among other things.
The vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the Oxford University's Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group is in phase 3 trials, which is the final stage before safety and efficacy data can be submitted to health regulators for approval.
More than 50,000 people worldwide have been taking part in the clinical studies to see whether the candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, can develop an immune response to COVID-19.