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On Pause

AstraZeneca has paused its SARS-CoV-2 candidate vaccine trial, the Washington Post reports. It adds that putting the trial on hold to investigate a possible adverse effect is an indication that the systems in place to protect trial participants are working.

Researchers from AstraZeneca and Oxford University reported early results from a phase 1/2 trial of their investigational vaccine in the Lancet in July, saying that it appeared to lead to an immune response. The company continued with testing, and recently started to enroll US participants.

However, earlier this week, AstraZeneca announced it was pausing its trial after a UK participant reported experiencing what might be transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, the Post reports. The company tells it that an independent committee is looking into the report. Experts tell the Post this is a sign that scientists, not politicians, are in charge of the vaccine development process.

AstraZeneca was among the vaccine developers that earlier this week promised to ensure their vaccine development process was governed by science. "This temporary pause is living proof that we follow those principles while a single event at one of our trial sites is assessed by a committee of independent experts," Pascal Soriot, the AstraZeneca chief executive, says in a statement. "We will be guided by this committee as to when the trials could restart."