The patient who caused the Oxford coronavirus trial to be put on hold developed symptoms of a rare spinal disorder, the head of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said.
The drug maker’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, confirmed on a call to investors today the woman displayed neurological symptoms of the spinal inflammatory disorder transverse myelitis, health website Stat reported.
Mr Soriot said the woman – who is from the UK – was injected with the Covid-19 vaccine and not a placebo.
He added that the woman was yet to be formally diagnosed with the spinal condition.
She was expected to be discharged from hospital today, he said.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership is one of the world’s most closely watched vaccine trials after showing encouraging results in phase 1 and phase 2 testing.
The phase 3 trial has involved about 30,000 participants from the UK, US, Brazil and South Africa.
Experts say there are often pauses in vaccine trials and any adverse reactions among participants are closely monitored.
AstraZeneca said an independent investigation would determine if the woman’s condition was linked to its vaccine.
According to the NHS, transverse myelitis can cause people to lose vision and experience severe pain in the arms or legs.
It said the attacks can be one-off or relapsing.
In his call with investors, Mr Soriot also said the trial was suspended once previously in June after patient developed neurological symptoms.
The AstraZeneca boss said that participant was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which was unrelated to the vaccine.
One person on the call reportedly said AstraZenca wanted to reassure investors the company was taking the event seriously.
Mr Soriot reportedly said: ‘A vaccine that nobody wants to take is not very useful.’
According to the World Health Organisation, there are currently 180 coronavirus vaccine programmes taking place around the world. None have completed clinical trials.
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