Local clinical trial expert 'not surprised' by COVID-19 vaccine trial halt

Posted at 10:25 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 23:25:19-04

WEST BEND — The race to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to the market has hit a snag. One of the companies working to develop the drug, AstraZeneca, has put its clinical trial on hold after a patient got sick.

In West Bend, Wis. at Spaulding Clinical the CEO says it wasn’t unexpected.

“I wasn’t surprised we see these types of stops very commonly” said Cassie Erato. Spaulding does Phase 1 trials of treatments at its facility in Washington County. The AstraZeneca vaccine was in Phase 3 of its trial.

AstraZeneca calls the stoppage a “routine action.” Health researchers are now looking into why one patient developed an inflamed spinal cord, and checking to make sure no other patients have the same reaction.

“This ought to be reassuring to everybody listening, when we say we are going to focus on safety and make no compromises, here is Exhibit A of how that is happening” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Erato says there are many ways to speed up the process without compromising safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“When this vaccine comes out I would have absolute confidence getting the vaccine myself” said Erato.

The coronavirus pandemic has bought business to the competitive business of clinical trials. Erato says business is up more than 10% for her company because as COVID-19 trials move forward, so do all the others already in the pipeline.

The AstraZeneca vaccine trial includes 30,000 patients in the US. 1,600 of which are taking part at UW Health.

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