AstraZeneca Pauses COVID-19 Vaccine Trial



Trial on Hold Due to an Unexplained Illness

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) announced that it is putting its clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine on hold. A volunteer from the company’s UK study developed an unexplained illness, so an independent committee is beginning a safety review. It is not yet clear how long the pause will last.

AstraZeneca, which licensed the vaccine from researchers at the University of Oxford, has emphasized that this is a routine protocol which happens often during clinical trials. However, the shot was one of the most advanced candidates so far, and some see this pause in its trial as a setback.

Investors’ Response

AstraZeneca said it will deliver more than 2 billion doses of its vaccine, and made deals to sell the shot to the US, the UK, and other countries. It also put together plans for delivering the vaccine to low and middle-income countries.

The company said it is doing all it can to move forward with the safety review so this pause has a minimal impact on delivery of the vaccine. Oxford University came out with a similar statement.

Investors did not seem overly concerned about the announcement. AstraZeneca shares were down less than 1% in London yesterday morning when news about the paused trial broke.

Safety First

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca and eight other companies in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, including Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE), signed a joint vaccine testing safety pledge. The companies promised to put the safety of trial participants first, and not to seek premature government approval for their vaccines before they are ready.

While some are disappointed about AstraZeneca’s announcement, others see it as a comforting sign that vaccine makers are sticking to their commitment to safety.


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