AstraZeneca denies COVID-19 vaccine trial subject had nerve ailment

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AstraZeneca Plc, the drugmaker working with the University of Oxford on a COVID-19 vaccine, contradicted a report that a volunteer in U.K. tests of the shot developed a rare nerve disease that might have signalled severe safety problems.

AstraZeneca was responding to a CNN report citing documents indicating that the diagnosis of the participant was confirmed as transverse myelitis.

Transverse myelitis has been linked to both vaccines and viral infections, and the Astra vaccine contains a virus that’s been altered to prevent it from growing in people. A diagnosis soon after vaccination raises the possibility that the virus used in the vaccine or some other component somehow triggered the rare reaction.

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A CNN spokeswoman said the network stood by its story, which cites an initial report on the volunteer’s neurological condition.

It’s the first time AstraZeneca has specifically ruled out such a diagnosis. CEO Pascal Soriot has said it was unclear whether the trial participant had the condition. A document posted online by Oxford later said the person’s symptoms included limb weakness or “changed sensation” and were unlikely to be linked to the shot.

Questions continue to surround the participant’s illness, which has sparked concerns about vaccine safety and increased worries about when the first shots against the coronavirus could be ready. 

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