AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it has suspended trials of the coronavirus vaccine that it is developing with the University of Oxford after one of the trials’ volunteers fell ill with an unexplained illness.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is seen as a strong contender among dozens being developed globally.
Hopes have been high that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful phase 1 and 2 testing.
Its move to Phase 3 testing in recent weeks has involved some 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials in vaccines often involve thousands of participants and can last several years.
Stat News, the health website which first broke the story, said details of the UK participant’s adverse reaction were not immediately known, but quoted a source as saying the individual was expected to recover.
The safety of a prospective vaccine for COVID-19 comes “first and foremost,” said the World Health Organization’s chief scientist.
“Just because we talk about speed… it doesn’t mean we start compromising or cutting corners on what would normally be assessed,” Soumya Swaminathan stated at a social media event.
“The process still has to follow through rules of the game. For drugs and vaccines which are given to people, you have to test their safety, first and foremost,” she added.
In August, Greece announced it will begin receiving 3 million doses of the vaccine by December.