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This COVID-19 vaccine trial was paused because the participant had serious neurological symptoms

AstraZeneca CEO said the patient could be discharged this week.

This Saturday, July 18, 2020 file photo shows a general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England.
This Saturday, July 18, 2020 file photo shows a general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England.
AP

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials came to a halt due to one patient suffering from adverse symptoms, and now we know what happened.

What happened

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a recent call with investors that the patient had neurological symptom tied to transverse myelitis, a rare spinal inflammatory disorder, according to STAT News.

  • The infected patient is improving and will likely be discharged this week.
  • The company said the patient was given the COVID-19 vaccine and not a placebo, STAT News reports.
  • Soriot said the trial was halted back in July after a patient experienced neurological symptoms. The patient had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, so it is believed it has no connected to the vaccine trial.

What is transverse myelitis?

Transverse myelitis often impacts the spinal cord. Viral infections often lead to increased symptoms, according to The New York Times.

  • The illness leads to inflammation on both sides of the spinal cord. This makes it difficult for the body to communicate internally, which could lead to paralysis.

Is this normal?

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, told The Wall Street Journal it is common for experts to put vaccine trials on hold in this way.

  • “It’s quite common for serious adverse events to occur, most not relevant to the vaccine.”