Today's news of pausing the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccine has been alarming to many. Here's the breakdown:
In clinical trials, there are 2 entities that ensure the safety of a new drug. There's the IRB/Ethics committee who provide the approval that it's safe to start the study. Then there's the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) which is an independent committee of experts who have no conflicting interest with the success or failure of the drug and regularly monitor the data from the trial. Before a trial starts, the protocol specifies any adverse events that would call for it to be paused or completely stopped.
It's reported that the vaccine was paused by the DSMB to investigate the event of a volunteer falling sick to ensure that it's not related to the vaccine. This is actually the second time that the trial is paused, which is very common during trials.
I'll leave it at these 2 positive thoughts:
1) Those who are making sure the vaccine is safe are doing their job, in spite of so much political pressure to have a vaccine available! Hopefully, it will resume again.
2) There are 8 other vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials (which is the last phase before it's widely available to the market)