AstraZeneca resumes Covid-19 vaccine trial after UK green light

Capped vials are being pictured during filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, conducted on a high-performance aseptic vial filling line on September 11, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 September 2020

AstraZeneca resumes Covid-19 vaccine trial after UK green light

  • AstraZeneca announced on Wednesday it had “voluntarily paused” its trial of the vaccine developed alongside Oxford University after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness
  • AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is one of nine around the world currently in late-stage Phase 3 human trials

LONDON: Pharma giant AstraZeneca on Saturday said it had resumed a Covid-19 vaccine trial after getting the all-clear from British regulators, following a pause caused by a UK volunteer falling ill.
“Clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that it was safe to do so,” the company said in a statement.
AstraZeneca announced on Wednesday it had “voluntarily paused” its trial of the vaccine developed alongside Oxford University after the volunteer developed an unexplained illness.
An independent committee was drafted in to review safety, in what the company and the World Health Organization described as a routine step.
The committee “has concluded its investigations and recommended to the MHRA that trials in the UK are safe to resume,” AstraZeneca said.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate is one of nine around the world currently in late-stage Phase 3 human trials.
In the United States, the company began enrolling 30,000 volunteers across dozens of sites on August 31, and the inoculation is being tested on smaller groups in Brazil and elsewhere in South America.
The AZD1222 vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold-causing adenovirus engineered to code for the spike protein that the Covid-19 coronavirus uses to invade cells.
After vaccination, this protein is produced inside the human body, which primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus if the person is later infected.
“AstraZeneca is committed to the safety of trial participants and the highest standards of conduct in clinical trials,” Saturday’s statement read.
“The company will continue to work with health authorities across the world and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume to provide the vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic.”


Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

Updated 50 min 13 sec ago

Ethiopian PM says troops ordered to move on Tigray capital

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s prime minister says the army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigray capital after his 72-hour ultimatum for Tigray leaders to surrender ended, and he warns residents to “stay indoors.”
The statement Thursday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office means tanks and other weaponry can now close in on the city of some half-million people. His government has warned of “no mercy” if residents don’t move away from the Tigray leaders in time.
The new statement asserts that thousands of Tigray militia and special forces surrendered during the 72-hour period. “We will take utmost care to protect civilians,” it says.
Communications remain severed to Tigray, making it difficult to verify claims.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below:
The United Nations says shortages have become “very critical” in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region as its population of 6 million remains sealed off and its capital is under threat of attack by Ethiopian forces seeking to arrest the regional leaders.
Fuel and cash are running out, more than 1 million people are now estimated to be displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week, according to a new report released overnight. And more than 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations haven’t received them this month.
Travel blockages are so dire that even within the Tigray capital, Mekele, the UN World Food Program cannot obtain access to transport food from its warehouses there.
Communications and travel links remain severed with the Tigray region since the deadly conflict broke out on Nov. 4, and now Human Rights Watch is warning that “actions that deliberately impede relief supplies” violate international humanitarian law.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s 72-hour ultimatum for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front leaders to surrender ended Wednesday night. His government has said Mekele is surrounded.
The UN has reported people fleeing the city. Abiy’s government had warned them of “no mercy” if residents didn’t move away from the TPLF leaders who are accused of hiding among the population.
But with communications cut, it’s not clear how many people in Mekele received the warnings. The alarmed international community is calling for immediate de-escalation, dialogue and humanitarian access.
Abiy on Wednesday, however, rejected international “interference.”