The rollercoaster of COVID-19 vaccines

Good afternoon, readers.

We’ve had a few turbulent developments in the coronavirus vaccine development race.

The biopharma investment and global health communities went into a tizzy over a halt of British drug giant AstraZeneca’s trial for a COVID-19 vaccine, being conducted with the help of Oxford University.

But here’s the thing: This is just kind of how things work when you’re making a new drug. And it’s complicated when you’re making one that seeks to serve the entire world on a short timeline while you’re trying to control an outbreak.

“This is a routine action, which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” AstraZeneca spokeswoman Michele Meixell says in a statement.

AstraZeneca’s clinical trial hold stemmed from adverse events and may well proceed into further clinical development. The bigger picture of who can develop a COVID vaccine as soon as possible is still murky.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla remains optimistic about his own company’s chances. “I’m very confident,” said Bourla in a recent event with Fortune. “Within a month we’ve had almost 26,000 people vaccinated.” He still thinks we’ll know whether or not this biological technology works by the fall.

Read on for the day’s news, and see you again next week.

Sy Mukherjee

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