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AstraZeneca resumes Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.K.

Following an independent investigation in a trial participant's "unexplained illness," the company got the go-ahead to resume testing.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

AstraZeneca, one of the pharmaceutical companies developing a COVID-19 vaccine, announced over the weekend that clinical trials in the U.K. have resumed.

The company got the green light from the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority that continuing to test the vaccine was safe.

WHY THIS MATTERS

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Last week, AstraZeneca put its Phase 3 trial on hold after a participant became ill. This was a routine action to ensure the safety and integrity of the trial, AstraZeneca said in its statement.

The "unexplained illness" triggered an independent review of the U.K., in which a panel of experts determined that the trials were safe to resume.

AstraZeneca did not release information about the participant's illness. However, all trial investigators, volunteers and clinical registries will be updated with relevant health information, AstraZeneca said.

THE LARGER TREND

The race to develop a vaccination for COVID-19 is ongoing. There are currently nine vaccines in Phase 3 of clinical trials, where scientists distribute the vaccine to thousands of people to test its effectiveness, according to the New York Times' Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker.

So far, officials say the trials are on track to meet Operation Warp Speed's goal to get a vaccine out by January 2021. However, some stakeholders, including Pfizer which has a Phase 3 trial of its own underway, say that results could be out as soon as October.

In response to criticisms that these pharmaceutical companies are rushing to get a vaccine developed at the expense of the public's health and safety, nine CEOs have signed a pledge to uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards making a vaccine.

ON THE RECORD

"AstraZeneca is committed to the safety of trial participants and the highest standards of conduct in clinical trials," AstraZeneca said. "The company will continue to work with health authorities across the world and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume to provide the vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org