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AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Volunteer Showed Symptoms Of Rare Neurological Disorder

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AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE: AZN) CEO Pascal Soriot said during a conference call with investors Wednesday that a person experiencing symptoms related to a rare neurological disorder caused its global COVID-19 vaccine trials to pause, Stat reported

What Happened: Soriot revealed that the trial participant, a woman in the United Kingdom, suffered symptoms consistent with a spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis, according to Stat.

The diagnosis wasn't confirmed and the woman could to be discharged from the hospital as soon as Wednesday, according to the executive.

A board overseeing safety and data components of the trial reportedly confirmed that the participant was injected with the British drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine and not a placebo.

Additionally, Soriot said that the vaccine trial was also halted earlier in July after a person suffered neurological symptoms, diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. The event was unrelated to the effects of vaccine, according to AstraZeneca.

Why It Matters: On Tuesday, the drugmaker temporarily halted its vaccine trial to allow an independent committee to conduct a safety review. 

United Kingdom Health Minister Matt Hancock called the halt a “standard process” when something new needs to be investigated and confirmed that this was not the first instance of the trial being stopped, as per Sky News.

Rival Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) shares closed nearly 5% higher on Wednesday on the news of AstraZeneca’s trial woes.

Moderna confirmed to SVB Leerink analyst Mani Foroohar that it expects no impact from AstraZeneca-Oxford adverse event on its coronavirus efficacy study.

Vaccinations made by Moderna and Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) are likely to be distributed early on in the United States to health care workers and high-risk groups, according to the New York Times.

Price Action: AstraZeneca shares closed 1.95% lower at $53.64 on Wednesday and gained 1.36% in the after-hours session.

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