In these unprecedented times, COVID-19 vaccines have been at the top of the news. How quickly a viable one is approved by the FDA is how quickly our world can begin to rebuild. The United States’ Department of Health and Human Services has given 1.2 billion USD in funding to advance one particular COVID-19 vaccine effort: AZD1222.
The United States's Vaccine Response
The AZD1222 vaccine was developed by Oxford University in the United Kingdom and licensed to pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. It is manufactured using a vaccine platform technology that supports large-scale production.
This step towards a vaccine was a result of President Trump’s Warp Speed Project, which was an attempt to create 300 million doses of the vaccination by January of 2021. The AZD1222 vaccine was developed by Oxford University in the United Kingdom and licensed to pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. It is manufactured using a vaccine platform technology that supports large-scale production.
AstraZeneca's AZD1222 Vaccine Candidate
According to AstraZeneca, AZD1222 uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the COVID-19 spike protein. The surface spike protein is produced following vaccination, allowing the immune system to attack the coronavirus virus if it infects the body.
AZD1222’s Phase 1 and 2 of clinical testing vetted positive results. The vaccine candidate was able to generate a rapid antibody and T-cell response against COVID-19 in 91 percent of the 1077 adult participants. Side effects occurred in 60% of participants but were deemed mild or moderate. In late August, Phase 3 testing began in England, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States.
AZD1222 Phase 3 Trials on Hold
However, AstraZeneca announced on September 9th that it’s Phase 3 trials were being put on hold. This was due to an unexpected illness in one of the UK trials. The nature of the adverse reaction was unknown but is now suspected to be associated with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord that can be caused by an immune response.
Each country must now determine whether it is okay for trials of AZD1222 to safely resume. Although it was only one adverse reaction, many more can come up when the vaccine is given to thousands of people. It has yet to be determined whether the incident was directly related to the vaccine or not. Although some countries have resumed Phase 3 testing, the FDA is conducting a deep probe to ensure scientific integrity in this process.
We now wait for the FDA’s decision in hopes that the safest and most beneficial option is chosen.
Until next time, keep on that STEM journey.