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A halt in the search for a vaccine

While the coronavirus has claimed nearly 900,000 lives worldwide – including a third in Latin America – clinical trials of one of the most advanced experimental covid-19 vaccines, developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, have been suspended in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

While the coronavirus has claimed nearly 900,000 lives worldwide – a third of them in Latin America – clinical trials of one of the most advanced experimental covid-19 vaccines, developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, have been suspended in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

(ASdN with AFP) – This is a rare downtime in the vaccine race. To shed light on a possible serious adverse reaction in a participant, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, an industrial partner of the British University of Oxford, has announced a pause in global trials of its vaccine in several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. United States, after the appearance of a “potentially unexplained illness” in a volunteer.

Vaccinations will be halted until an independent committee assesses the incident, details of which have not been revealed but which is likely a significant side effect. According to the specialist site Statnews, the trials were halted due to “a suspicion of a serious side effect in a participant in the United Kingdom”.

For David Lo, professor at the University of California Riverside, “other side effects” have already been reported, “like fever, pain (..) so it could be something more serious”, a- he told AFP. “Trials are often suspended temporarily when an adverse reaction occurs in a patient, so that researchers can notify” sites where trials are also being conducted, he said.

Millions of doses

This break in trials could delay one of the most advanced Western projects, along with those of the American companies Moderna and Pfizer, each recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to verify that the doses are safe, and prevent vaccinated people get sick with covid-19.

All three companies have so far said they hope for results before the end of the year or early 2021, and have started manufacturing millions of doses ahead of time in case they are conclusive. AstraZeneca has pre-sold hundreds of millions of doses to multiple countries around the world, more than any of its competitors. Involved, with Argentina, in the production and distribution in Latin America of the possible AstraZeneca vaccine, Mexico has indicated that its deployment could be delayed.

The suspension of clinical trials “is not an unusual event … and therefore the arrival of the vaccine could be delayed in the region”, said Hugo Lopez Gatell, Deputy Secretary for Health of the government in conference of hurry.

In the United States, the most bereaved country in the world, many experts fear that US President Donald Trump will pressure to authorize a vaccine against the coronavirus before the presidential election on November 3. The Republican, candidate for re-election, said his country would have a vaccine “this year”. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on Monday said he would “like to see what scientists are saying”, and the country’s health authorities have assured that the approval process for a possible vaccine will be based on scientific results. .

Faced with the growing controversy, the bosses of nine companies developing vaccines wanted to reassure the general public by signing a joint commitment to rely on the results of clinical trials before requesting authorization.

Nearly 900,000 dead

Competition is raging to develop a vaccine. Russia announced in early August that it had developed the “first” vaccine against covid-19, of which more than a “billion doses” have been pre-ordered by 20 foreign countries, according to the Russian Sovereign Fund involved in its financing. The pandemic has killed more than 894,000 people worldwide and 27,421,340 cases of infection have been officially diagnosed since the end of December, according to a report established by AFP. The Latin America and Caribbean region alone records more than 300,000 deaths and the epidemic particularly hits Peru with more than 30,000 deaths.

Europe is experiencing a rebound in the number of cases: the European Parliament session scheduled for next week in Strasbourg was canceled due to the health risk considered too high and will be held in Brussels. In France, more than 6,500 new cases of covid-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours, the Directorate General for Health warning of “a clear deterioration of the situation”. Spain has passed the bar of 500,000 diagnosed cases. And in England, gatherings of more than six people (against 30 currently) will be banned from Monday.


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