Researchers are investigating whether the unexplained reaction from one of the Oxford trial volunteers is linked to the vaccine
The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial is currently facing a “challenge”, the health secretary has said, after the trial had been put on hold as a result of a suspected serious adverse reaction to the vaccine in one of the trial’s volunteers.
It was announced on Tuesday night that researchers had paused the trial for now while they investigate the possible reaction in one of the trials participants in the UK.
A ban on gatherings of groups of over six people within homes, parks, pubs and restaurants throughout England is being imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the biggest COVID-19 crackdown since the nation-wide lockdown rules were eased.
“As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca – the drugmaker working with Oxford University – said.
The research team explained that it was a “routine action” and that it is speeding up the investigation in order to minimise any potential impact on the timeline of the trial.
“We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials,” they added.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, has said that the pause of the Oxford vaccine trial is not necessarily a cause for concern and that the researchers have already overcome one such delay to their work.
“It is obviously a challenge to this particular vaccine,”
“It’s not actually the first time it has happened to the Oxford vaccine and it’s a standard process in clinical trials.”
Asked if it is a setback, Mr Hancock replied: “Not necessarily, it depends on what they find when they do the investigation.”
“There was a pause earlier in the summer and that was resolved without a problem.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that most serious adverse reactions that can occur following vaccination are not related to the injection and are coincidental health problems.
When vaccinations are given to a large number of people, it is likely that a few of those people will experience a medical problem around the time of vaccination, but this does not mean that it is cause and effect.
This comes after people across the UK have been unable to get tests for COVID-19 because laboratories have reached a “critical pinch-point” in processing them. The director of COVID-19 testing at NHS Test and Trace, Sarah-Jane Marsh, has apologised for the unavailability of tests.
Experts believe that finding a vaccine is the only way for the world to be able to return to some form of normalcy in the future and there are globally nine vaccine candidates that are in larger phase three vaccination trials.
But it is not yet known how well a vaccine for the coronavirus will work, and Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, has recently warned that the chances of a vaccine being almost 100% effective are “not great”.
“We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%. I’d like it to be 75% or more,” he said.