Final clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, have been put on hold after a participant had an adverse reaction in the UK.
AstraZeneca described it as a “routine” pause in the case of “an unexplained illness”.
The outcome of vaccine trials is being closely watched around the world.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is seen as a strong contender among dozens being developed globally.
Hopes have been high that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful phase 1 and 2 testing.
Its move to Phase 3 testing in recent weeks has involved some 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials in vaccines often involve thousands of participants and can last several years.
What have the developers said?
All international trial sites have now been put on pause while an independent investigation reviews the safety data before regulators decide whether the trial can restart, the BBC’s Medical Editor Fergus Walsh reports.
“In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully”, an Oxford University spokesperson said.
This is the second time the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial has been put on hold, our correspondent notes. Such events are routine in major trials, and happen any time a volunteer is admitted to hospital when the cause of their illness is not immediately apparent.
Read more: Coronavirus: Oxford University vaccine trial paused after participant falls ill