Volunteer in Oxford Covid vaccine test dies in Brazil

The first Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trial in the US is expected to begin next week. Here’s how the vaccine works

A Brazilian volunteer in a coronavirus vaccine trial of AstraZeneca died last week, the country's health ministry disclosed on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

It was unclear whether the volunteer received the experimental vaccine or a placebo, but experts said that if a volunteer had died after receiving the experimental vaccine, the company would have halted the trial over safety concerns.

Brazil's health authority Anvisa said it had been informed on Monday of the study volunteer's death and had received a partial report from an global committee assessing the trial's safety.

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford and lead on the Oxford vaccine trial, added: "This is a wonderful example of cross-disciplinary collaboration, using new technology to examine exactly what the vaccine does when it gets inside a human cell".

He explains that all ongoing phase 3 trials for which details have been released are evaluating mild, not severe, disease - and they will be able to report final results once around 150 participants develop symptoms.

"Following careful assessment of this case in Brazil, there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial and the independent review in addition to the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should continue", the university spokeperson said. While the trials have since resumed in the United Kingdom and other countries, the company is still waiting for approval from USA regulators.

The regulator said testing of the vaccine would continue after the volunteer's death.

So far, 8,000 of the planned 10,000 volunteers in the trial have been recruited and given the first dose in six cities in Brazil.

AstraZeneca shares fell 1.8 per cent following the news.

The federal government already has plans to purchase the vaccine and produce it at its biomedical research centre Fiocruz in Rio de Janeiro, while a competing vaccine from China's Sinovac is being tested by Sao Paulo state's research center Butantan Institute.



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