Oxford University announced over the weekend that it was resuming a trial for a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The move came less than a week after the study was suspended following a reported possible side-effect in a U.K. patient. In a statement, the university confirmed the restart across all of its U.K. clinical trial sites after regulators gave the go-ahead following the pause on Sunday.
“The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the U.K. regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the U.K.,” it said. The vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca is widely perceived to be one of, if not the strongest contender among the dozens of coronavirus vaccines in various stages of testing around the world. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the restart, saying in a tweet that it was “good news for everyone” that the trial is “back up and running.”
England Launches COVID-19 App to Boost Contact Tracing
Britain said it will launch a new COVID-19 app across England and Wales later this month which will allow people to use QR codes when they enter venues, boosting the country’s contact tracing to help keep the spread of the virus in check. With cases rising, Health Minister Matt Hancock said the new app would help NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace, the scheme used in England to contact those who have been in contact with a COVID-infected person, to reach more people.
“The launch of the app later this month across England and Wales is a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time,” he said in a statement on Friday. Previous attempts to develop more sophisticated tracing apps have struggled to expand beyond the pilot stage, and the government has faced criticism after missing launch deadlines.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned groups of more than six people from meeting from Monday as the government tries to keep the spread of the virus under control amid a sharp rise in cases in recent days.The UK recorded 2,919 new daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and cases have started to track much higher than the levels of around 1,000 per day recorded in August.