Oxford-Astra Covid Vaccine Review to Start in Europe

European regulators are set to start an accelerated review of a Covid-19 vaccine front-runner from the University of Oxford andAstraZeneca Plc, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, in a sign the shot could be the first to seek approval in the region.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to announce the “rolling review” as soon as this week, according to the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the decision is still private. Such assessments are used in emergencies to allow regulators to see trial data while the development is ongoing to speed up approvals of drugs and vaccines that are urgently needed.

The move would be a key step forward for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot after trials were halted earlier this month amid concerns about a participant in the U.K. study who became ill. While the British regulator cleared the trial to re-start less than a week later, U.S. authorities haveyet to give the go-ahead for trials to resume in the country. Studies in South Africa, Brazil and India have also re-started.

The EMA’s head of vaccinessaid in July the agency would start rolling reviews of potential candidates after the summer. The approach means that a final approval could be granted a matter of days after the review period ends. The EMA started a rolling review ofremdesivir to treat Covid-19 in April, and the drug was given conditional approval three months later.

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AstraZeneca declined to comment. A spokesperson for the EMA declined to comment on the review.

“EMA has always stated that it will communicate the start of a rolling review for Covid-19 treatments or vaccines,” it said in a statement. “We have not made such an announcement for a vaccine.”

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