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expert reaction to Oxford vaccine trial restarting in UK

It has been announced by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, that their COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial will resume after being paused last week. 


Prof Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London, said:

“It is a great relief to hear that the Oxford adenovirus vaccine trial has been restarted, and reassuring that the checks and balances built into the trial were effective. It was right to suspended the trial to allow investigation. The restarting of the trial shows that the event was judged not to be vaccine related.

“This is excellent news because the Oxford vaccine is one of the most promising. A huge amount investment has been made in it already not only by Astra Zeneca and the world-class investigators, but also by the volunteers and their families. I am so glad all this effort has not been wasted. 

“Inevitably with such a large trial there will be times when safety issues arise. We must all hope that there are no future events and that the vaccine proves both safe and effective and that vaccines become available for COVID-19. It can be such a nasty disease, both in the short and long term. I do hope we can prevent it and get back to normal life.” 


Dr Stephen Griffin , Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Leeds, said:

The public should be reassured that the Oxford vaccine trial is being carried out with the utmost professionalism, transparency, and focus upon safety.

“Pausing the trial was absolutely the right course of action and it has now been independently confirmed by the MHRA that the trial is safe to continue. Naturally, it is sad news that a patient is unwell, I wish them all the best and a speedy recovery. 

“It is heartening that this leading vaccine candidate has now been safely administered to a considerable number of individuals and we remain hopeful that it is successful in achieving protective responses.”


Prof Rowland Kao, the Sir Timothy O’Shea Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science, University of Edinburgh, said:

“While this is very good news, the road to an effective vaccine remains long – for now, keeping COVID-19 infections to manageable levels must rely on non-pharmaceutical interventions, including continued efforts to reduce potentially infectious contacts, effective use of masks and hand washing. Central to this is a test and trace system which can rapidly handle the large numbers of cases that are likely to come our way through autumn and winter, and vigilance in protecting and treating the most vulnerable.”


Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:

“It is good news that the vaccine trial is able to resume. As and when a vaccine is available, it will need high uptake in order to support bringing an end to this pandemic. Therefore, the public must have confidence in that vaccine. Even though the research clearly has a high level of urgency to it, we can feel reassured that safety is being taken seriously and the trials are being conducted properly.”


Dr Charlotte Summers, Lecturer in Intensive Care Medicine, University of Cambridge, said:

“The pause in the Oxford vaccine trial to seek independent review of the adverse event is a sign that the team are committed to putting safety at the heart of their development programme, for which they should be commended. The trial being paused gave rise to much unhelpful speculation. To tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic, we need to develop vaccines and therapies that people feel comfortable using, therefore it is vital to maintaining public trust that we stick to the evidence and do not draw conclusions before information is available.”


Prof Sian Griffiths, Emeritus Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and past president of the Faculty of Public Health, said:

“It is good news that the Oxford vaccine trial is restarting. The process of halting the trial despite the pressures to produce an effective vaccine demonstrated the high value and importance placed on ensuring vaccine safety. It also indicates that the regulatory authorities, having studied the data provided, believe the vaccine safe enough for the trial to continue. With the rising number of cases in the UK, as well as the continued global spread of COVID-19, the need for a vaccine or vaccines remains an urgent priority if we are to control the disease. Absence of vaccines means relying on adherence to the ‘Rule of Six’ and the behaviours summed up in the messages behind ‘Hands. Face. Space.’, supported by an efficient and effective Track and Trace system.”


Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, said:

“In developing any new drug, safety is of paramount importance. It is therefore very reassuring to hear that trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 will resume following review by an independent safety committee and the MHRA.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


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