• Alysa Salzberg

Silver linings to pausing the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial

The race for a coronavirus vaccine faced a setback this week, when late-stage trials for AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s joint attempt had to be paused due to a volunteer contracting a serious illness.


Fortunately, a new longform article reassures us, this doesn’t necessarily spell the end for the vaccine. Instead, interviewed experts explain that the halt, which may be temporary, is standard procedure in clinical trials for vaccines. The next step is to determine whether the vaccine or another factor caused the volunteer’s condition.


Many see this as responsible behavior on the part of Astra Zeneca and Oxford University. With the rush and pressure to come up with a COVID-19 vaccine, this is even more commendable. Hopefully, other companies will have the same kind of ethics if they’re faced with a similar problem. In fact, last week, a number of them publicly pledged to follow standard procedures and to act for the good of the public.


So there’s some good news among the bad: evidence that even in our current situation, companies will continue to follow standard procedures that will keep patients safe. And of course, if the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is still determined to be safe, the trials can continue; the fight is far from over.


Read on to learn (a lot!) more about how coronavirus vaccines are being developed and what trials they’ve already undergone and are continuing to undergo.



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