The clinical trials for Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine has been paused for the second time after one of the participants fell ill with an “unexplained illness”.
The Oxford University/AstraZeneca developed vaccine is among the most promising of dozens of vaccines currently being developed globally and the world is watching closely as clinical trials are carried out. Hopes are high for the vaccine to prove successful as it passed through stages one and two in the development process. Now in stage three, which has involved some 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and may last several years, the trials have been put on hold pending an independent investigation reviewing the safety data before regulators decide whether the trial can restart.
“In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully”, an Oxford University spokesperson said, according to BBC.
The trial was put on pause at an earlier stage in the development, according to the BBC‘s correspondent familiar with the vaccine’s development, but these pauses are routine in the development of vaccines in order to make sure they are safe and effective. It can happen any time a volunteer is admitted to hospital when the cause of their illness is not immediately apparent and the trial will likely resume within a few days.
According to the report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that there are nearly 180 vaccine candidates, but none have completed clinical trials and it doesn’t expect any vaccines to pass its safety standards before the end of 2020.
The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, in partnership with AstraZeneca, is among a group of nine COVID-19 vaccine developers who signed a “historic pledge” to uphold scientific and ethical standards in the search for a vaccine.
It is therefore, perhaps, a promising sign that the trials have been paused and shows that the vaccine is being developed in good faith, rather than being rushed and therefore dangerous, should it be released to the global population without these setbacks.