AstraZeneca's decision to pause its global trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate over safety concerns should reassure skeptical Americans that "they are looking very carefully at everybody who is getting the vaccine," New York Medical College Professor Dr. Bob Lahita told “Your World" Wednesday.
AstraZeneca, which has been developing a vaccine with the University of Oxford, temporarily put its late-stage study on hold while it investigates whether a recipient’s “potentially unexplained” illness could be a side effect of the vaccine. The drugmaker said in a statement Wednesday that the symptoms could point to the autoimmune disease transverse myelitis, but that there is "no final diagnosis" at this time.
Despite the minor setback, "delayed does not mean denied," said Lahita, who argued that the recipient's illness is "not necessarily linked to the vaccine."
They "try it on different populations, children, elderly, and you find that people have illnesses on their own," he explained. "It is not a surprise and it is a good thing because it indicates they are looking very carefully at everybody who is getting the vaccine."
A safe and effective vaccine could be available by the end of this year or early 2021, Lahita said, echoing Dr. Anthony Fauci's prediction earlier Wednesday that the country should know “by the end of the year” if one of the vaccine candidates will qualify for approval.
"AstraZeneca Oxford is way ahead of the game with their viral vector, that’s what their vaccine is and they are being very careful because a lot of these mechanisms of development are new," Lahida explained, " ... but it is very exciting ... and quite safe, the kinds of vaccines we have coming forward, for the most part."
However, Lahita cautioned, "We’ve got to be very, very careful going forward."
Fox Business' Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.