Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the coronavirus vaccine Covishield being developed by the Oxford University along with pharma major AstraZenca, today said it will stop the Phase 3 trials that were to begin in India next week. The vaccine trial was stopped across four nations as a precautionary measure after one of the recipients in the UK showed some potentially adverse symptoms.
The Serum Institute was issued a showcause notice by the country’s drug controller DCGI yesterday, where it was questioned why it was continuing the trials in India even though it has been stopped elsewhere. The DCGI also questioned why it has not received a report detailing the symptoms of the patient in the UK.
“We are reviewing the situation and pausing India trials till AstraZeneca restarts the trials,” read a statement from the Serum Institute, which was still doing the groundwork for the trial including listing volunteers. The trials were to be held on 1,600 volunteers across 17 sites in India and were expected to begin next week.
“We are following DCGI’s instructions and will not be able to comment further on trials. You can connect with DCGI for more updates on this front,” added the statement released today by the institute headed by Adar Poonawalla.
After the DCGI notice, the Serum Institute said last evening, “We are going by DCGI’s direction and so far were not told to pause the trials. If DCGI has any safety concerns, we will follow their instructions and abide by the standard protocols.”
AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish pharma giant, had said the volunteer had suffered “an unexplained illness” and such pauses in drug trials are “routine”.
New York Times had reported that a volunteer in the UK trials was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord generally caused by infections, citing a person close to the situation that it didn’t name.