CLINICAL TRIALS for a Covid-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford are set to resume.
The late-stage studies were briefly halted this week after a test subject reported a side effect.
Thousands of people have been tested as part of the trials in both the UK and US as well as in part of smaller study groups in South America.
Work on the vaccine is being led by Professor Adrian Hill, an Irish vaccinologist who previously developed treatments for Ebola and malaria.
The vaccine, which is being backed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is a leading contender to become the first to go into mass production.
In a statement, Oxford University confirmed that the trial would continue, noting that “it is expected that some participants will become unwell”.
It read: “The ongoing randomised controlled clinical trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 will resume across all UK clinical trial sites.
“Globally some 18,000 individuals have received study vaccines as part of the trial.
“In large trials such as this, it is expected that some participants will become unwell and every case must be carefully evaluated to ensure careful assessment of safety.
“On Sunday September 6 our standard review process triggered a study pause to vaccination across all of our global trials to allow the review of safety data by an independent safety review committee, and the national regulators.
“All routine follow-up appointments continued as normal during this period. ‘The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the UK.”
No details of the nature of the side effect have been given.
A previous report from the New York Times indicated the patient may have been suffering from transverse myelitis, a type of inflammatory syndrome affecting the spinal cord, which is often sparked by viral infections.
It is not uncommon for large-scale trials of this kind to be halted in order for scientists to investigate any unexpected reactions.
The Oxford University vaccine is one of three current in final-stage tests.
Similar vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are at a similar stage of testing.
All three are not expected to be ready for public use until 2022.