Final-stage Covid-19 vaccine testing resumes in US

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Two drugmakers whose Covid-19 vaccine candidates are in advanced trials have announced the resumption of US testing, with both having paused the process after a volunteer developed a serious health issue.

Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been paused early last month, while Johnson & Johnson paused its tests last week. But on Friday, both received the go-ahead to restart tests by the US’ Food and Drug Administration.

Such pauses are a relatively common occurrence in large-scale testing involving thousands of participants, and allow researchers to determine whether the illness was a side effect of the vaccine or a coincidence.

AstraZeneca’s testing has already resumed in other countries, and earlier in the week the death of a trial participant was reported in Brazil. It was, however, confirmed that the person concerned had been part of the control group which received a dummy shot.

Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, said that a thorough evaluation of the case that triggered a pause in testing found no evidence linking it to its vaccine candidate.

Both companies have reached advance purchase agreements with the European Commission, which seek to allow EU member states to purchase vaccines quickly once they are proven to be safe and effective.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Chris Fearne said that a vaccine may arrive early next year, and that once a vaccine is developed, Malta would be able to acquire enough doses to immunise its population within 6 months.