AstraZeneca shares slip as vaccine trial put on hold

Shares at Cambridge-based pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) have slipped 1.55% as its coronavirus vaccine trial is put on hold after a participant suffered a suspected adverse reaction.

The firm has suspended all clinical trials of its proposed COVID-19 vaccine – which had been in the final stage of human tests – while it routinely reviews the incident before the study is allowed to resume.

The exact nature of the participant’s reaction has not been revealed, but AstraZeneca has indicated that they are expected to make a full recovery.

The company is currently one of the leading agents in the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, and had been on track to release one by the end of the year until the delay was announced.

It is not yet clear how costly the setback will be, but a spokesperson confirmed that delays to the initial estimate should be expected.

AstraZeneca is said to be “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline.

“As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.

“This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials”.

Clinical trials are often paused due to events of this nature, but few studies have attracted as much media attention as this one, and the setback will no doubt leave many anxious that AstraZeneca may be falling behind.

Shares at the company slipped 1.55% to 8219.00p at BST 13:05 09/09/20, but have already made a significant recovery after a nearly 8% plummet when markets opened this morning.

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Junior Journalist at the UK Investor Magazine. Focuses primarily on finance and business content. Has personal interests in Middle Eastern politics, human rights issues, and sustainability initiatives.