AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot said on Thursday that it should know before the end of the year whether its experimental vaccine would protect people from COVID-19, if the British drugmaker is allowed to resume trials which were paused this week.
It suspended the late-stage trials after an illness in a study subject in Britain. The patient was reportedly suffering from neurological symptoms associated with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.
Soriot said during a call on the vaccine, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has flagged as the most promising in combatting coronavirus, that it was very common for a trial to be suspended, the difference being that the world was watching.
The CEO said AstraZeneca did not know the diagnosis for the volunteer in the trial, adding that it was not clear if they had transverse myelitis and more tests were needed.
Soriot said the diagnosis would be submitted to an independent safety committee and this would usually then tell the company whether trials can be resumed.