AstraZeneca had resumed its coronavirus vaccine trial in Britain after suspending it over potential safety issues in the U.S and other countries.
The news came the same day that a competitor, Pfizer, said it was expanding the trial of its coronavirus vaccine to 44,000 people — a big increase from its previous goal of 30,000 — in an effort to recruit a more diverse group of participants and potentially cut down the time needed to get results from the trial.
In a company statement, “Clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that it was safe to do so.”
An independent committee was drafted to review safety, in what the company and the World Health Organization described as a routine step.
The committee “has concluded its investigations and recommended to the MHRA that trials in the UK are safe to resume”, AstraZeneca said.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is one of nine around the world currently in late-stage Phase 3 human trials.
The AZD1222 vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold-causing adenovirus engineered to code for the spike protein that the COVID-19 coronavirus uses to invade cells.
After vaccination, this protein is produced inside the human body, which primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus if the person is later infected.
“AstraZeneca is committed to the safety of trial participants and the highest standards of conduct in clinical trials,” Saturday’s statement read.
“The company will continue to work with health authorities across the world and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume to provide the vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic.”