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COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Paused Before Ohio State Testing Begins

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center on March 30, 2020.
David Holm
Ohio State Wexner Medical Center on March 30, 2020.

An unexplained illness in the United Kingdom has put a pause on the COVID-19 vaccine trial that Ohio State was slated to help administer.

In a press release, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca describes the delay as voluntary, adding “this is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.” 

The illness apparently occurred in a U.K. trial volunteer, but the company has not released any specifics. A panel of independent experts will review the case, determine if the illness is related to vaccine, and decide when testing can resume.

The vaccine, co-developed by AstraZeneca and researchers at the University of Oxford, has shown promise in early tests, and has entered what’s known as phase three clinical trials. For that, researchers are leaning on an international network of health care providers, including Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, to conduct the 30,000-person test.

In a statement, Ohio State officials note they had yet to begin testing when the trial was paused.

"While the review and evaluation of the trial is underway," the statement reads, "we are pausing and awaiting further direction from AstraZeneca."

Wexner Medical Center was looking to recruit about 500 people to receive either the vaccine or a placebo, and then be monitored for the next two years. Researchers said the vaccine could hit the market sooner, however, if the results were positive.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.