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Peru has temporarily suspended clinical trials of a Covid vaccine made by Chinese drug giant Sinopharm after it detected neurological problems in one of its volunteers.
The National Institute of Health said on Friday it had decided to stop the trial after a volunteer had difficulty moving his arms, according to local media.
“Several days ago, we reported, as requested, to regulatory authorities that one of our participants (in the trials) had neurological symptoms which may correspond to a condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome,” said Chief Researcher German Malaga in his comments to the press.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare, non-contagious disease that affects the movement of the arms and legs. Peru declared a temporary health emergency in five regions in June last year following multiple cases.
In the 1970s, an Americans’ campaign to innoculate a supposedly devastating strain of swine flu came to a halt after some 450 vaccinated people developed the syndrome, which can also cause paralysis.
Peru’s clinical trials for the Sinopharm vaccine were due to end this week, after testing around 12,000 people.
If they are successful – which will not be known until mid-2021 – the Peruvian government would have to purchase up to 20 million doses to inoculate two-thirds of its population.
60,000 around the world have already taken the Sinopharm vaccine, including volunteers in Argentina, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Peru has one of the world’s highest per capita death rates from the virus, which as of Friday caused 36,499 deaths and 979,111 infections.
The pandemic hit the South American country’s economy hard, with GDP plunging more than 30% in the second quarter.
© 2020 AFP