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AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Halt A 'Wake-Up Call,' WHO Says

AstraZeneca Plc’s (NYSE: AZN) COVID-19 vaccine trial halt is an indicator that vaccine development is “not always a fast and a straight road,” according to the World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

· 09/10/2020 21:54

AstraZeneca Plc’s (NYSE:AZN) COVID-19 vaccine trial halt is an indicator that vaccine development is “not always a fast and a straight road,” according to the World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

What Happened: The WHO official said that the vaccine trial delay was good and a “wake-up call or a lesson for everyone to recognize the fact that there are ups and downs in research,” CNBC reported Thursday.

In case of a mild side effect there are steps that could be taken, but in case of a major side effect, as in the case of the British drugmaker’s vaccine trial, it was “normal procedure” to pause the testing, according to Swaminathan.

The WHO official said that it typically takes six months before researchers can observe the results of late-stage human trials.

“It could be that we see some results end of the year, it could be early next year, but that’s the time frame in which we start seeing the results,” said Swaminathan.

Why It Matters: According to the WHO, there are more than 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development across the world, 26 of which are currently undergoing clinical trials.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soirot disclosed Wednesday that the vaccine trial was paused because a woman in the United Kingdom experienced symptoms of a rare neurological disorder called transverse myelitis.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified all 50 states on Aug. 27 to get ready to distribute two COVID-19 vaccines starting late October. These vaccines are likely the ones being developed by Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), according to the New York Times.

The guidelines were issued the same day President Donald Trump told the Republican National Convention that a vaccine may be available before the end of the year, the Times reported.

Price Action: AstraZeneca shares closed nearly 1.1% lower at $53.07 on Thursday and gained almost 0.4% in the after-hours session.