Yale infectious disease doctor on halt of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials at University of Oxford


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Oxford pausing its phase three trials of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday caught the world’s attention, including Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist Dr. Oneyma Ogbuagu. He described the participant’s suspected illness.

“What appears to have happened is transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. It’s a disorder that can be caused by multiple things including autoimmune and other inflammatory disorders, but also can be caused by infections, typically viruses,” explained Dr. Ogbuagu.

It will now have to be determined whether the illness was caused by the vaccine.

Doctor Ogbuagu is leading trials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Yale School of Medicine. He says the AstraZeneca vaccine uses something called viral vectors, and points out that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use them so the risk of that complication would be insignificant.

All COVID-19 vaccine producers recently agreed to a joint safety pledge to not let politics interfere with drug safety.

“I would just like to reassure the public that we’re using the highest level of scientific rigor to run these clinical trials and trying to as much as possible minimize the risk to participants and maximize potential benefits,” says Dr. Ogbuagu.

This is the second pause in the AstraZeneca trials. The first was a diagnosis proven unrelated to the vaccine. If this latest illness is not related, the trial should resume.

Officials reported Monday the trial has resumed.

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