AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine could be ready this year despite study halt

AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine could still be ready this year even though it had to halt a key clinical study after a participant got sick, CEO Pascal Soriot said Thursday.

The British pharmaceutical firm should know by the end of 2020 whether the vaccine protects patients from the virus if it’s able to resume the study soon, Soriot said during an online event.

“We could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year,” Soriot told reporters during the conference, according to The Wall Street Journal.

AstraZeneca said Wednesday that it paused the so-called Phase 3 trial to review the participant’s “unexplained illness.” An independent safety committee will determine whether the research can restart after it learns the person’s diagnosis, which AstraZeneca has yet to confirm, according to Soriot.

“It’s very common, actually, and many experts will tell you this,” Soriot said. “The difference with other vaccine trials is, the whole world is not watching them, of course. They stop, they study and they restart.”

Reports emerged that the woman had come down with a rare neurological condition called transverse myelitis, but AstraZeneca issued a statement saying there was no final diagnosis.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, is one of the leading candidates that could help bring an end to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase 3 studies — which aim to determine whether a vaccine is safe and effective — have also started for a potential vaccine from biotech firm Moderna and a joint effort between Pfizer and BioNTech.

AstraZeneca was one of nine drugmakers that signed a joint statement Tuesday pledging to make safety their top priority as they race to develop a vaccine.

AstraZeneca’s US-listed shares were up 0.3 percent at $53.80 as of 11:51 a.m. Thursday.

With Post wires

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