The coronavirus vaccine Australia is pinning its hopes on has suffered a major setback when a participant in the vaccine trials became ill.
Drug giant AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday it had put trials for the potential COVID-19 cure on hold in order to find out what the mystery illness was.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said it “voluntarily paused” the Oxford University-led trial.
“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,” the company wrote in a statement.
“In large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.”
But a volunteer who received the jab in May told MailOnline he suffered from side effects for days.
“I woke up about 2am and I was freezing, but had a temperature above 39C,” he said.
“I felt incredibly weak and couldn’t really get up and move so my partner had to get me a paracetamol.
“The temperature continued for about a day, and I just felt really weak and lethargic and couldn’t really do anything.”
The man said the most severe symptoms went away after three days.
The adverse health effects are bad news for Australia which cemented a landmark agreement with AstraZeneca in August that would put Australians among the first recipients once the drug was deemed safe and effective.
The PM faced questions about whether the vaccine would be mandatory. He told Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell he hoped 95 per cent of the population would get the jab.
“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it,” the PM said.
“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis.
“I mean we’re talking about a pandemic that has destroyed you know, the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 450 Australians here.
“We need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal.”
But after backlash to his comments, he later backtracked, telling 2GB’s Jim Wilson the vaccine would not be mandatory.
“There’s been a bit of an over-reaction to any suggestion of this, there will be no compulsory vaccine,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.
“What we want to achieve is as much vaccination as we possibly can.”
Mr Morrison previously cautioned that more work needs to be done to prove the vaccine was safe to use.
He told news.com.au that once that work was done, the government would fund the rollout of more than 25 million doses to cover every Australian at no cost to the recipient.
“The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” Mr Morrison said.
“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians.
“However there is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researchers at the same time to find a vaccine.”
— with Samantha Maiden