AstraZeneca has resumed clinical trials in the United Kingdom for a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) following a three-day suspension, the British pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday.
“Clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that it was safe to do so,” AstraZeneca announced in a statement.
The trials on the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca along with the University of Oxford, were suspended on Wednesday after a volunteer in Britain developed a reported side-effect.
An independent review committee set up to assess the risks linked to AZD1222 completed its review and indicated to the MHRA that it was safe to resume the trials in the United Kingdom, the company said.
At an online conference on Thursday, CEO Pascal Soriot said pausing such trials was not abnormal, but that in this case, it had received much more publicity because of the global interest in the vaccine, seen as one of the most promising ones in the world.
He said it was still possible to have a vaccine ready by the end of this year or early next year.
AZD1222 is one of the most advanced potential vaccines in the world. It is being tested on tens of thousands of volunteers in the U.K., Brazil, South Africa and, since August 31, in the United States, in the last trial phase, Phase 3, in which vaccines’ safety and effectiveness are assessed.
In its latest update, on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation listed 35 “vaccine candidates” under evaluation worldwide, nine of them already in the last phase or about to enter it.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it could take at least until early 2021 for a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready for approval and available in sufficient quantities to be used globally.