CAMBRIDGE - British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca PLC has suspended its global coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine trials after a study participant suffered an unspecified illness.

The company said the halt would allow an independent committee to review safety data, and that it would expedite the review to minimise any potential impact on the study’s timeline.

This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials,” the company told Reuters, Wednesday (9/9).

It has not been confirmed whether the illness was directly linked to the vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, is the most advanced in terms of development.

The vaccine, called AZD1222, is in late-stage clinical trials in Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while additional trials are planned in Japan and Russia.

Following the suspension, AstraZeneca’s shares fell over 8% in the US while the shares of its Indian subsidiary AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd plunged over 12%. (MS)