In effort to ease fears surrounding future coronavirus vaccines, nine of the leading U.S. and European vaccine developers have pledged Tuesday to uphold all scientific standards in the development and testing of their candidates as they rapidly try to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The signatories to this pledge are top executives from AstraZeneca
The pledge comes as the speed and delivery of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine has become a highly politicized debate as the world yearns to restore global business back to pre-pandemic levels.
This desire to end the pandemic as quickly as possible is seen more evident in the United States, with President Donald Trump stating during a press conference on Monday that, "We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about." Trump was referring to the November 3 presidential election, an important date for Trump as the U.S. battles the coronavirus pandemic while he is up for reelection.
"We want it to be known that also in the current situation we are not willing to compromise safety and efficacy," stated BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin, quoted by Reuters. "Apart from the pressure and the hope for a vaccine to be available as fast as possible, there is also a lot of uncertainty among people that some development steps may be omitted here."
Currently, it seems that only Pfizer/BioNTech could have a vaccine candidate ready for emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by October. Yet, even at that pace it is very unlikely a vaccine will be widely available until at least the end of the year due to the unprecedented level of global demand.
The large, Phase III clinical trial of AstraZeneca and Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine candidate that is being conducted in multiple sites across the United States and the United Kingdom has been paused on Tuesday due to a suspected adverse reaction in a participant in the U.K.
According to the drugmaker, the pause to the large-scale trial is "a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials," quoted by STATnews. A spokesperson for the clinical trial stated that the company is "working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline."
At this time, it is not clear whether AstraZeneca/Oxford or a regulatory agency had placed the trial on hold. The company has confirmed that the affected individual is expected to recover.