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AstraZeneca halts COVID-19 vaccine trials amid a volunteer’s “unexplained illness”

AstraZeneca halts COVID-19 vaccine trials amid a volunteer’s “unexplained illness”

The event could harm the vaccine's timeline

One of the frontrunners for a COVID-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca found itself in a pickle because of the vaccine it is currently testing.

The drugmaker announced that it hit the pause button on the late-stage human trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine due to an unexplained illness reported by one of the volunteers. In a statement, AstraZeneca said that the vaccination is in standby for an independent committee to look into the situation.

According to The New York Times, the British volunteer reportedly received a diagnosis of transverse myelitis, his spinal cord being affected by the disease. Under the same report, "the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca's vaccine, is still unknown."

This incident could derail President Trump's plans of having a vaccine before the November presidential elections. Also, the UK health secretary Matt Hancock said that the vaccine would "most likely" be available in the first half of 2021.

On the day of the incident, AstraZeneca, alongside Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, BioNTech, and Novavax, pledged to not move forward with their potential vaccines if not demonstrating their efficacy and safety.

Following the news, AstraZeneca stock price fell 6%.

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