A volunteer in the AstraZeneca vaccine trials has died of COVID-19 complications

astrazeneca vaccine trials death
Photo via Jernej Furman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A volunteer who was participating in the third phase of a coronavirus vaccine trial has died, according to Reuters. But the attempts to study and eventually approve the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue after it was reported that the Brazilian man had received the placebo and not the potential coronavirus shot.

Oxford University, which has been working with AstraZeneca to create the vaccine, said the third phase of the trial would move forward. “There have been no concerns about [the] safety of the clinical trial,” Oxford said in a statement.

If the man, a 28-year-old physician who reportedly died of coronavirus complications, would have been given the actual vaccine instead of the placebo, the trial would have been suspended. Already, the AstraZeneca vaccine trials were put on hold in September after a volunteer in the U.K. developed an inflammatory syndrome. The global trials continued a few days later, though trials in the U.S. are still on pause. In October, the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine also had to be halted after one volunteer had developed an “unexplained illness.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of 11 potential global vaccines that are currently in phase 3 of development. That means thousands of people have received either the vaccine or a placebo to determine if it’s effective and safe. Among the nearly dozen companies working on a vaccine, there’s almost no chance one will be deemed safe until at least the end of November.

According to CNN, 8,000 Brazilians participating in the AstraZeneca vaccine trials have been given either the vaccine or a placebo. The Washington Post reported that half of the volunteers had received the vaccine and the other half had received a vaccine for meningitis that has been proven safe as the placebo.

“We can confirm that all required review processes have been followed,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson told the Post. “All significant medical events are carefully assessed by trial investigators, an independent safety monitoring committee and the regulatory authorities. These assessments have not led to any concerns about continuation of the ongoing study.”

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Sources: Reuters, CNN, Washington Post

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