A volunteer in Brazil's clinical trial of AstraZeneca's experimental coronavirus vaccine has died. The organisers, however, said that the trial of the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca, would continue. Anvisa, the Brazilian health agency, notified about the death on Monday but the International Evaluation and Security Committee overseeing the trial recommended that the trial continue.
This could be an indication that the death was not linked to the vaccine, a report in the CNN stated. It is not yet clear whether the volunteer received the vaccine or a placebo shot as part of the trial. The health agency did not release any further information for reasons of "medical privacy".
"All significant medical incidents, whether participants are in the control group or the COVID-19 vaccine group, are independently reviewed. Following careful assessment of this case in Brazil, there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial and the independent review in addition the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should continue," Oxford University told CNN.
About 8,000 volunteers have received either the vaccine or a placebo in the trial, the D'Or Institute, which is administering the clinical trial in Rio, said.
"The rigorous analysis of data collected up to now did not raise any doubts about the safety of the study, and thus recommended that it continue," the Institute said in a statement.
Meanwhile, vaccine experts said that volunteers in clinical trials can fall ill or die for any number of reasons, which may not be related to the vaccine.
"Without details it is impossible to know what has happened in this case but as the trial is continuing. I think we can assume the circumstances of the death were such that it was clearly not vaccine related," Ian Jones, a professor of virology at Britain's University of Reading, said in a statement. "What we have to rememeber is that in any large trial the normal processes of morbidity (sickness) and mortality are still operating and that sometimes an event will occur in a trial participant which would have occurred anyway, trial or not," he further said.