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The British company announced on Wednesday night that this is a routine measure for such cases. “Diseases occur randomly in large series of experiments, but they have to be investigated by an independent party in order to check this thoroughly.”
AstraZeneca will accelerate the investigation so that the approval process for the vaccine is delayed as little as possible, it said. The ultimate goal of the review is to determine if the health problems were caused by the vaccine. During the stop, no further study participants should be vaccinated and people who have previously been vaccinated should continue to be observed.
The health problems that are not mentioned in more detail are an isolated case, emphasized the company. The vaccine is in the third and final phase of studies in the USA, among others, with tens of thousands of participants.
AstraZeneca did not provide any information about the disease. The New York Times reported, citing an informed person, that the health problem was transverse myelitis – an inflammation that hits the spinal cord and can be caused by viral infections. The active ingredient AZD1222 manufactured by AstraZeneca is based on the weakened version of a cold virus from chimpanzees and is supposed to get the immune system going so that it can neutralize Sars-CoV-2 in the event of an infection.
AstraZeneca and eight other pharmaceutical and biotech companies had only given assurances on Tuesday that they would not compromise on safety when developing a corona vaccine. This unusual move followed in view of concerns that there could be political pressure, especially in the USA, to urgently approve the first vaccines before the presidential election on November 3rd. US President Donald Trump promises almost daily that there will be a vaccine by the end of the year or possibly by the election.
This is how the AstraZeneca share reacts
After a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine was temporarily halted, AstraZeneca’s papers came under heavy pressure on Wednesday before the market. On the trading platform Tradegate, the shares of the British pharmaceutical company fell by over 7 percent with brisk trading. According to the group, the reason for the routine stop is health problems in one of the test subjects.
In official London trade, however, the minus recently melted to 0.39 percent at 82.19 British pounds.
The experts at the investment bank Barclays expect the group to know more about the vaccine candidate’s safety profile within a few days. They are currently acting extremely cautiously. For investors, however, it is a sentiment damper that leads to corresponding price weakness.
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LONDON / WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX)
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