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AstraZeneca tells Chile to wrap up vaccine trial recruitment

SANTIAGO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca has wrapped up recruitment for its COVID-19 vaccine trial in Chile with 2,000 volunteers signed up, the university running the study confirmed on Wednesday.

The University of Chile, which runs two of three trial sites for the vaccine, co-developed with the University of Oxford, said in a statement that it had been informed of the trial’s closure to new recruits by AstraZeneca on Tuesday.

Dr. Sergio Vargas, an academic at the University of Chile’s Faculty of Medicine and leader of one of the trials, said participants already signed up for the trial would now be monitored to assess the vaccine’s longer-term efficacy.

“The part of admission of new patients is closed but the people who have already participated ... will receive their second dose to continue with the follow-up for two years,” he said.

Dr. Vargas said he hoped the announcement would mean Chile could approve the roll-out of the vaccine rapidly.

“What is coming is that we can ideally have the approval of the Public Health Institute as soon as possible,” he said.

AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use by the UK medicines regulator early on Wednesday and Argentina’s regulator on Wednesday afternoon.

Chile’s point person for vaccine procurement told Reuters this week that AstraZeneca had already filed data with Chilean regulators for emergency roll-out of its vaccine and could get a green light “weeks or even days” after approval by European or American regulators.

Chile, which is one of the best positioned in the region with regard to vaccines, has an agreement to purchase 14.4 million doses of immunization from Oxford and Astra Zeneca and several other agreements with Pfizer/BioNtech, China’s Sinovac and the global distribution scheme COVAX.

Chile started vaccinating its health workers against COVID-19 last Thursday, using 10,000 doses from Pfizer and BioNTech. (Reporting by Natalia Ramos, writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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