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COVID-19 vaccine trial participant not officially diagnosed with transverse myelitis

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on Wednesday said the sick participant that prompted it to halt its coronavirus vaccine trial has not officially been diagnosed with transverse myelitis.

Multiple outlets reported that a woman was diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder during the UK-based drug giant’s third phase of vaccine testing.

But a spokesperson for the company on Wednesday told CNBC that while trial was paused, the woman hasn’t been officially diagnosed with the disorder. The reports had misinterpreted comments by AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, during a private conference call with investors, the company insisted.

“He stated that there is no final diagnosis and that there will not be one until more tests are carried out,” AstraZeneca’s spokesperson said. “Those tests will be delivered to an independent safety committee that will review the event and establish a final diagnosis.”

The woman was hospitalized due to her illness but is recovering and could be discharged as soon as Wednesday, according to CNBC.

AstraZeneca also stated that the study was once “briefly paused” before, back in July, because a participant was discovered to have an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis.

“We can also confirm  that there was a brief trial pause in July while a safety review took place after one volunteer was confirmed to have an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis, which the independent panel concluded was unrelated to the vaccine,” the company’s spokesperson went on.

The news comes as researchers around the world race to create a safe vaccine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

AstraZeneca stressed earlier that such holds were “routine” during large trials and that it would “maintain the integrity of the trials.”



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