Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that a drug manufacturer's recent decision to pause clinical trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine because a test subject got sick is unfortunate, but not uncommon in the pharmaceutical industry, Reuters reported.
Across the world, multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers are working to get a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen colloquially referred to as the "coronavirus," developed and deployed as soon as possible. Ordinarily, producing a vaccine takes years, but researchers are working quickly in order to put the brakes on the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, one such manufacturer, AstraZeneca, suffered a setback this week. The manufacturer is currently carrying out large-scale clinical trials of the so-called "Oxford vaccine," a serum developed in cooperation with a team of researchers at the British university that appears to have a good chance at being safe and effective. However, the pharmaceutical giant announced that it is pausing its own trials after a patient came down with an unexplained illness.
As CBS News reported, it remains unclear if the patient's sickness can be directly attributed to the drug he or she received. Indeed, that will be a matter for an independent review board to sort out.
"We voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee," a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said.
The spokesperson further added that the company hopes this setback won't lead to any major delays in the development of the medicine. The company is trying to expedite the external review in order to minimize the damage done to the timeline.
Dr. Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the pause may be disappointing to those eager to see a vaccine sooner rather than later, but that this is just a routine part of the process.
"This particular candidate from the AstraZeneca company had a serious adverse event, which means you put the rest of the enrollment of individual volunteers on hold until you can work out precisely what went on," he said.
He expressed optimism that the matter will be sorted out and the trials can resume soon.
"It's really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it's unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully, they'll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don't know. They need to investigate it further," he said.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a group of nine drug manufacturers in the U.S. and across the world, AstraZeneca included, published a joint statement this week stating that they will not rush the development of a vaccine and will adhere to long-established scientific standards that traditionally inform the process.