Sep 9, 2020

Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine trial halted

Kayleigh Shooter
2 min
man with gloves on handling needle
Coronavirus vaccine trials being completed at Oxford University have been paused due to a participant falling ill...

 The final clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, being developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University, have been paused following a participant having a suspected adverse reaction and falling ill. Despite this hiccup in the trials, it is hoped that AstraZenca and Oxford University's vaccine will be one of the first available on the market with successful phase one and phase two testing. 

Adverse side effects are not unheard of in clinical trials, and Oxford University has branded this instance as "routine" and hopes that the trial will be commenced again shortly. This is the second incident to occur in the Oxford trials since it started back in April. A spokesman for Oxford University said: "In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully."

Whilst the race for a vaccine rages on for the sake of public health and the return to work and "normal" life, it is paramount that safety is not compromised. The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has stated that he wants a vaccine available to the public before the next election occurring on the 3rd November, however, these comments have raised a feeling of fear that a rushed vaccine may mean politics is prioritised over safety. 

Last Tuesday, a group of nine COVID-19 vaccine developers set out to reassure the public through announcing a "historic pledge" to maintain already high scientific and ethical standards in the search for a coronavirus vaccine. AstraZeneca is one of the companies among the nine who signed up to the pledge. High fledged companies in the industry; Johnson & Johnson, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, Moderna, Sanofi and Novavax are the other companies taking the pledge towards a safe vaccine. 

How you can slow the spread of coronavirus:

Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

Find out the key information about COVID-19 here.

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May 19, 2021

Vaccine rollout spurring dark net activity, McAfee finds

2 min
Research by McAfee has found illegal sales of fake COVID-19 vaccines and tests on the dark net

A report by security software company McAfee has found a huge rise in the availability and demand for illegal COVID-19 vaccines. 

The research by McAfee Advanced Threat Research found evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are currently available on at least a dozen dark net marketplaces. Vaccines allegedly made by Pfizer-BioNTech are being sold for $600 to $2,500 per dose, with vendors using channels such as Wickr, Telegram, WhatsApp and Gmail to advertise and communicate. 

Some of the supposed vaccines are imported from the US, while others are packed in the UK and shipped all over the world, according to the listings.

Moderna vaccines, potentially fraudulent antibody tests and fake vaccine cards are also being increasingly sold on the dark web, on at least 10 different underground markets. 

Anne An, senior security researcher at McAfee’s Advanced Programs Group, told us that with the increased global demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, the demand for illegal vaccines, fake test results and vaccination record cards has also grown. "Consumers who are buying these items pose a serious threat to public health and spur the underground economy" she said. 

"Opportunistic cybercriminals capitalise on public interest in obtaining a COVID-19 immunity passport. These bad actors can also benefit by reselling the names, dates of birth, home addresses, contact details and other personally indefinable information of their customers." 

As well as cyber security measures, An says education is necessary to stem the rise in these illegal sales. "Dark net selling of illegal COVID-19 vaccinations, fake test results and vaccination record cards is both a cybersecurity issue and an educational issue.

"On the one hand, channels being used as a means of business have the responsibility to monitor and mitigate cybercriminal activity on their platforms. On the other, the ongoing efforts of government and medical officials to provide factual information on COVID-19 and vaccinations is critical to discouraging the demand for fraudulent alternatives."  

Read McAfee's report Fool’s Gold”: Questionable Vaccines, Bogus Results, and Forged Cards

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