AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine faced new controversy this week after a trial participant in India alleged that the vaccine caused him serious “neurological and psychological” symptoms.
The accusation was the latest in a series of complaints or concerns surrounding Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine being developed in partnership with Oxford University.
Yet despite concerns about safety and trial design, countries are already spending billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to purchase AstraZeneca’s vaccine, in part because, compared with frontrunners Moderna and Pfizer, AstraZeneca’s vaccine is easier to store and faster to distribute.
The latest news also hasn’t changed plans by the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), a public-private partnership founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to distribute the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine globally, once it’s approved.
Second participant reports neurological adverse effect
On Nov. 21, a 40-year-old participant in AstraZeneca’s clinical trial, who lives in India, sent a legal notice to the Serum Institute of India alleging that the vaccine caused him to develop acute neuro encephalopathy.
In the notice, the participant said he “must be compensated, in the least, for all the sufferings that he and his family have undergone and are likely to undergo in the future.”
A spokesperson for the Institute said the trial participant is “falsely laying the blame for his medical problems on the COVID vaccine trial” and that “it is evident that the intention behind the spreading of such malicious information is an oblique pecuniary motive.”