By now, the majority of people in the affected countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic has begun adapting to the new normal and have regained a little freedom compared to the lockdowns that occurred earlier this year, but the fight is still not over, and our only chance to regain every bot of normalcy is through a COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine
AstraZeneca chief believes the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine can still be released this year.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Halted

Several pharmaceutical companies are currently working on a coronavirus vaccine, and among the frontrunners are AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, who have collaborated for the vaccine.

In a report by The Guardian, Pascal Zoriot, the AstraZeneca chief executive, said that it is still possible for them to release the vaccine by the end of the year or early next year.

This is despite the company and Oxford having to halt the third phase of their clinical trial--where they are testing the vaccine on 50,000 to 60,000 people when one volunteer got sick as they proceeded to investigate the "potentially unexpected illness."

Based on the report, there are speculations that the volunteer who got sick had transverse myelitis, which is an inflammation of the sheath that contains the nerves of the spinal cord.

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How Long Will the Trial Remain on Pause?

When asked if it was indeed the volunteer's issue, the chief executive said that they are still unsure whether it was indeed transverse myelitis and that they are still uncertain of the final diagnosis as the volunteer is still undergoing further tests.

Once the test results are available, the researchers will then have to submit the data to an independent safety committee who will assess it and say whether they can resume the trials.

Transverse myelitis could become a permanent condition, but it could be treated with steroids to help reduce the inflammation.

Unfortunately, Zoriot was unable to say when the trials would resume.

But according to Professor Robert Booy, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Sydney, the COVID-19 vaccine trial could be halted for a week up to one month if it has been proven to be an isolated case and unrelated to the vaccine.

"By the End of This Year"

Nevertheless, he has confidence that they are still on track and may release the vaccine soon, promising results.

"Even so, I still think we are on track for having a set of data that we would submit before the end of the year for regulatory approval," the chief executive said. "We could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year, depending on how fast the regulator moves."

Furthermore, the AstraZeneca executive emphasized that pauses in clinical trials are common due to "adverse events."

However, the difference this time is that the whole world is watching and keeping a close eye on their progress.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have signed several manufacturing partnerships with various countries worldwide to deliver around three billion doses.

Although that may not be enough for the entire population, Soriot believes that he is confident that combining the vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies could ensure that everyone in the world can be vaccinated against COVID-19, putting an end to the pandemic.

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Written by: Nhx Tingson

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