The pharmaceutical AstraZeneca has decided to discontinue a clinical trial to achieve a vaccine against COVID-19, because one of the participants suffers from “a potentially inexplicable illness,” a company spokesperson told US media.
“This is a routine action that happens whenever there is a potentially unexplained disease in one of the trials while it is being investigated, ensuring that the integrity of the studies is maintained,” the spokesperson told CNBC and the specialized media Stat.
The volunteer who fell ill resides in the UK, according to Stat, who said he did not know the nature of the adverse reaction suffered by the individual, although it is expected to recover.
This is the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge (United Kingdom), together with the University of Oxford and whose efficacy was being tested in the US, Brazil and South Africa after the trial had yielded positive results in its early stages, when it was tested with 1,000 people in the UK.
In addition, the Governments of Argentina and Mexico, as well as the Mexican Slim Foundation, reached an agreement with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford in August to manufacture the vaccine in their countries and then distribute it to all the countries of Latin America, with the exception of Brazil.
As reported in August by the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, the goal was to produce between 150 and 250 million doses that would be available at affordable prices, with an individual cost of between 3 and 4 dollars.
For the moment, the effect this incident could have on AstraZeneca’s plans is unknown to develop the vaccine in Mexico and Argentina.
The spokesman for the pharmaceutical company, quoted by local media, assured that “work is being done to accelerate the review of this unique incident in order to minimize any potential impact on the trial plans.”
AstraZeneca had started Phase 3 of its US trial at the end of Augustaccording to clinicaltrials.gov, a US government registry; while in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, the vaccine study was between phases 2 and 3, according to Stat.
AstraZeneca planned to have its vaccine available by the first half of 2021 and it was considered one of the most advanced in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Together with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca is one of three companies with Phase 3 studies in the United States.