Hitting the pause button on a Covid-19 vaccine

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Good afternoon,

We learned yesterday that the road to a coronavirus vaccine will not be smooth.

AstraZeneca announced that trials for the vaccine have been put on the pause after an unexplained illness was reported.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine has been one of the most promising candidates in an army of candidates being developed throughout the world.

As AZ noted in a media statement today, pausing a trial is not unusual. One illness could be a one-off event that may be resolved in a matter of days, or it could be a sign of a significant side effect that requires further study.

Northern Delaware has more than a passing interest in the vaccine. While AstraZeneca’s R&D center in Fairfax was bulldozed years ago, the company still employs an estimated 1,500 in Delaware. At one point, the  UK-based company employed more than 4,000 here.

After a painful downsizing, due to the loss of patent protection for a number of drugs, the headcount in northern Delaware has remained stable as the company rebuilds its new product pipeline.

In a related note, the CEOs of nine pharma companies signed a pledge to develop Covid-19 vaccines in a responsible manner and err on the side of caution.

This comes despite pressure in many quarters to speed up the process as the death toll from Covid-19 complications heads toward 200,000 in the U.S. Meanwhile, the virus continues to take a staggering toll on the economy and social fabric of this nation and others.

Despite these pressures, executives realize that shortcuts would undermine public confidence and undermine drug development efforts in critical areas like cancer and heart disease.

(See related story in this newsletter for more details) – Doug Rainey, chief content officer

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