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These health officials are ‘very concerned’ about the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine trial

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 trial had a serious side effect. Here’s why it’s concerning

In this May 4, 2020 photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, receives an injection.
In this May 4, 2020 photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, receives an injection.
University of Maryland School of Medicine via Associated Press

The Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health have expressed concern about the coronavirus vaccine that was halted over serious side effects, CNN reports.

The setup:

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford recently halted their COVID-19 vaccine phase 3 study because there was a suspected adverse reaction to the vaccine in someone from the United Kingdom, according to STAT News.

  • As I wrote for Deseret.com, the trial was stopped after a patient had neurological symptom tied to transverse myelitis, a rare spinal inflammatory disorder. The illness leads to inflammation on both sides of the spinal cord, which makes it harder for the body to communicate internally, which could lead to paralysis.

What’s going on?

Dr. Avindra Nath, leader of viral research at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said this is concerning.

  • “The highest levels of NIH are very concerned. Everyone’s hopes are on a vaccine, and if you have a major complication the whole thing could get derailed.”

A decision to approve the vaccine could be risky. There’s already a major side effect but it could help curb the pandemic, the officials said.

  • “So many factors go into these decisions. I’m sure everything is on the table. The last thing you want to do is hurt healthy people,” Nath said.

A positive sign?

The decision to halt the coronavirus vaccine trial could be a positive step forward toward ending the pandemic, according to the Deseret News editorial board.

  • “If anything, the AstraZeneca case ought to renew faith in the process. Companies putting profits above all else surely wouldn’t let one adverse reaction end their efforts.”