The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every aspect of life as the cases continue to add up. Up until recently, however, there was a glimmer of hope. The vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in conjunction with Oxford University was doing exceptionally well and speeding through the testing trials. However, recently the testing program was halted after a person in the trial developed a ‘potentially unexplained illness.’
While this news may initially seem disheartening, it is important to recognize the positive aspects of this setback. On one hand, it is good that the company chose to pause the trial. This means that they are prioritizing the health of participants and are being thorough. On physician and chief of infectious disease at UM Faheem Younus tweeted in response to the news: “Need more details. But based on this information I’m not alarmed. Side effects, stops, and re-starts are part of a GOOD careful process.” He continued to say “1 “potential” side effect vs 35,000 COVID patients hospitalized in US today. That’s the perspective we need to keep in mind.”
Another commentator reinforced the idea that this news is not all bad. Natasha Loder spoke to the subject saying, “its good news because this is what is supposed to happen and shows pharma firms behaving responsibly.”
The responsibility of big pharma and their actions is further reinforced by the decision made by the nine biggest pharma companies to sign a pledge affirming that none of them will rush a COVID-19 vaccine. Among that companies that signed the pledge include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novavax, and Sanofi.
The decision to band together in the effort to create a coronavirus vaccine is good news for everyone involved. It ensures the safety of consumers first and foremost, and moreover holds the companies developing vaccines accountable. The insistence on “high ethical standards” will ensure that the vaccine developed is safe and has been thoroughly tested.
In conclusion, while it may initially appear very disheartening that the trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was paused, ultimately it is good news because it means the safeguards in place are working effectively. Without the appropriate safety measures and protocols in place, a vaccine that has not been vetted adequately could be released into the public leading to an even more dire public health crisis. Therefore, individuals should feel reassured about the safety of the vaccines being developed because of the intense regulation occurring.