AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said the coronavirus vaccine the company is developing with the University of Oxford could still be ready before the end of the year after pausing its trials due to a possible serious neurological problem in one participant.
Speaking at an online conference Thursday, Soriot sought to reassure investors after the company and its partner confirmed earlier this week that they had temporarily stopped giving people the experimental shot.
The trial was halted after a person in the UK who was participating in it got sick, triggering a review of safety data. Though such interruptions are common in vaccine studies, the drugmaker and its boss are facing questions about what exactly caused the issue and whether it could be related to the shot.
“What we have here is a special set of circumstances where the whole world becomes involved in the conduct of a clinical trial,” Soriot said in his first public comments since the trial was halted. The decision on whether to resume the study is in the hands of a group of independent experts working to understand whether the patient’s illness was a coincidence or a result of the vaccine. “The reality is we all have to be very patient and see how it unfolds,” he said.
Astra shares slipped 0.6% in London.