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Scientists Question Why AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Remains On Hold In US

Benzinga logo Benzinga 9/23/2020 Aditya Raghunath
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Scientists are questioning why AstraZeneca Plc’s (NYSE: AZN) COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials remain paused in the United States even as other countries move forward.

What Happened: The British pharma company’s trials were temporarily grounded across the globe after one of the volunteers faced complications in the U.K. However, these trials have begun in most countries, except the U.S. — where has been on hold for over two weeks.

Brown University's Dean of the School of Public Health Ashish Jha told the Financial Times "there is a risk the public will lose confidence in the whole process" if "radical transparency" isn't maintained. 

Johns Hopkins Center immunologist Gigi Gronvall concurred with Jha, saying the U.S. regulator and AstraZeneca need to be more open about why the clinical trial hasn't resumed.

“Eventually, it’s the public who will either take this vaccine or not, so it is to their advantage to be transparent as possible,” she told FT.

The company claims that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently facilitating a review of information, and trials would commence only after receiving approval from the agency.

Why Does It Matter: AstraZeneca released its clinical study protocol for the Covid-19 vaccine trials last week. According to The New York Times, this disclosure is the result of growing pressure on Pharma companies to maintain transparency on clinical procedures. Despite administering the British pharma company’s vaccines to more than 18,000 people, trials have been halted twice.

The trials were halted after a participant developed neurological symptoms, but Oxford University, which co-developed the vaccine candidate alongside AstraZeneca, said the unexplained adverse reactions in trial volunteers were likely unrelated to the vaccine.

Price Movement: AZN fell 0.84% during Tuesday’s trading hours and dipped further by 0.34% in the after-hours to close at $55.25.

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