The University of Oxford resumed their Covid-19 vaccine trials today (September 12) after being forced to suspend their research when a UK volunteer fell ill. 

Randomised clinical tests of the vaccine will restart across all UK trial sites, the university announced. 

British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, who is developing the vaccine alongside the academic team, had said the suspension of the study on September 6 was “routine”. 

Details of the “potentially unexplained illness” in one of the trial’s volunteers  remains unclear. 

According to a report from The New York Times a volunteer in the UK trial was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and can be caused by viral infections. 

However, the cause of the illness has not been confirmed and an independent investigation will now work out if there was any link to the vaccine. 

A spokesman from the University of Oxford said: “In large trials such as this, it is expected that some participants will become unwell and every case must be carefully evaluated to ensure careful assessment of safety.” 

Globally over  18,000 individuals have participated in the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine trials since they started in April. 

The vaccine had previously generated strong immune responses, and is currently in phase three trials – the final step before a vaccine is approved.

A formal statement from the University of Oxford read: 

“On Sunday [06/09/2020] our standard review process triggered a study pause to vaccination across all of our global trials to allow the review of safety data by an independent safety review committee, and the national regulators. All routine follow-up appointments continued as normal during this period.”

“The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the UK.”

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