Trump coronavirus adviser: AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial pause not ‘anything unexpected’

'People should be assured by this'

AstraZeneca pausing the trial of the coronavirus vaccine is an indication that the process is “safe,” according to White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas.

“This is one of the reasons why clinical trials are done. This is an indication that the trials are being done safely. Things happen during trials; that’s part of the reason why we can’t totally predict exactly when things will be available,” Atlas told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on "Mornings with Maria"  on Wednesday.


Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca will put an experimental coronavirus vaccine study on hold in America after a participant in the United Kingdom faced an apparent serious adverse reaction, according to a report.

The Anglo-Swedish company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said.

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The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the situation, said an individual in the study came down with transverse myelitis, which the paper described as an inflammatory syndrome in the spinal cord. The paper said it was not clear if there was a connection to the vaccine.

Last week, AstraZeneca announced its COVID-19 vaccine candidate entered the final testing stage in the U.S. The Cambridge, England-based company said the study would involve up to 30,000 adults from various racial, ethnic and geographic groups.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, known as AZD1222, was invented by the University of Oxford and an associated company, Vaccitech.

The company said monoclonal antibodies are created in the lab, mimic natural antibodies, and their treatment may prevent disease progression.

The monoclonal antibodies are derived from the convalescent plasma of COVID-19 patients. The company pointed to a recent study published in Nature where researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed the monoclonal antibodies blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding to host cells and shielded “against infection in cell and animal models of disease.”


AstraZeneca said the pause is “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.”

The company said it is “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.”

A suspected serious adverse reaction includes symptoms that require hospitalization, life-threatening illness and even death.

It’s suspected the adverse reaction happened in the Phase 2/3 trial underway in the U.K.

A Phase 1/2 study published in July reported about 60% of 1,000 participants on the vaccine experienced side effects. 


Atlas said pauses in the vaccine trial are not “anything unexpected.”

“As they said, it is routine and these are investigated,” Atlas said.

“That’s exactly why we are doing the trials. People should be assured by this,” Atlas said.

Atlas went on to say that people should not be afraid to take the vaccine once it becomes available because that could ultimately cost more lives.

"We have 200,000 people almost have died already, and people are inciting fear into people about the vaccine," he said. "I think this is really unconscionable. Frankly, I hate to say it, they are killing people by doing that. We have people who are high risk, they need the vaccine, and when this vaccine is available and we're on track to have it available before the end of the year. But, again, the timing is unpredictable really with accuracy because it depends on the events that occur during the clinical trial."

Fox News' Lauran Neergaard and Carla K. Johnson contributed to this report.