The decision was made to put the Oxford trials on hold after a volunteer reportedly began suffering from neurological symptoms associated with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. In a statement yesterday, Oxford University said: “The ongoing randomised controlled clinical trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine will resume across all UK clinical trial sites.
“Globally some 18,000 individuals have received study vaccines as part of the trial. In large trials such as this, it is expected that some participants will become unwell and every case must be carefully evaluated to ensure careful assessment of safety.”
Safety data has been reviewed, it said, adding: “Following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the UK.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the restart. He tweeted: “Good news for everyone, the Oxford vaccine trials are back up and running. This pause shows we will always put safety first. We will back our scientists to deliver an effective vaccine as soon as safely possible.”
Meanwhile, scientists at Imperial College London working on a separate clinical trial of an experimental vaccine plan to up the dosage on patients.
They say that their initial findings show it is “well tolerated”.
Provided approval is given, the researchers want to recruit 76 new volunteers to have higher dose injections with results available within two months.
Unlike many vaccines, the Imperial one is completely synthetic and uses the genetic instructions for the surface spiky protein of the virus.
When injected into the arm, it instructs muscle cells to make copies of the protein to provoke an immune response.
In a letter sent to the 300 participants in the COVAC1 trial, researchers wrote: “There is a concern from the few initial results that we now have that the immune response may not be as strong as was hoped. So we need to explore the possibility of using higher doses.”