AstraZeneca Moves From Favored Child To Problem Child Among Vaccines
Mene Pangalos, head of biopharmaceuticals research for AstraZeneca Plc, went to bed on Monday, March 22, feeling good for the first time in a while. After working around the clock through the weekend, he'd just announced better-than-expected interim results from the company's large U.S. vaccine trial: The shot was safe and 79% effective at preventing cases of symptomatic Covid-19. Positive news, at last, after months of questions about everything including safety and supply shortfalls.
But at around 5 the next morning, Pangalos was jolted out of bed in the U.K. by a call from AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot, ringing from Australia to ask what on earth was happening. The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid) had just issued a late-night statement announcing that the safety board overseeing the trial was concerned AstraZeneca "may have included outdated information" in its results, which "may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data." Niaid, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, urged the company to release up-to-date figures as soon as possible.