AstraZeneca / Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial in Brazil continues after volunteer dies

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SÃO PAULO – Clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine under development by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC will continue in Brazil despite the death of a volunteer, Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said on Wednesday.

The University of Oxford said it had conducted a careful assessment of the case in Brazil and that there were no concerns about the safety of the trial. An independent assessment of the case presented no concerns, AstraZeneca said.

Governments around the world are debating timing to make Covid-19 vaccines available to the public, as drugmakers ramp up development. Daniela Hernandez of the WSJ explains the potential health risks associated with accelerated vaccines. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko / Associated Press

Anvisa said earlier Wednesday that she was made aware of the death on Monday and was investigating. It did not give any information on the identity of the volunteer or whether the person had taken a dose of placebo or an actual dose of the vaccine. Brazilian press reported that the volunteer was a 28-year-old man from Rio de Janeiro, who died of complications from Covid-19.

“The fact that the trials have not been suspended could indicate that the person took a dose of placebo,” said Carlos Fortaleza, epidemiologist at São Paulo State University.

AstraZeneca shares fell 1.7%, but then cut losses.

Brazil has set aside more than $ 350 million to purchase the Oxford University vaccine, which will be produced and distributed by the country’s Rio-based science institution Fiocruz. São Paulo is also working on another vaccine in partnership with Sinovac, a private Chinese company.

Write to Luciana Magalhaes à [email protected] and Samantha Pearson à [email protected]

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