Johnson & Johnson Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Trial After Mystery Illness
Johnson & Johnson has temporarily stopped attempting a vaccine against COVID-19 after a test volunteer developed a mysterious disease.
It is the second time in two months that a COVID-19 vaccine study has been canceled after an unexplained illness in a test subject, raising concerns about the safety of the vaccines and dampening expectations for a quick resolution to the pandemic.
Researchers who conducted the Johnson & Johnson study, which enrolled 60,000 volunteers around the world, were told Monday to stop testing the single-dose vaccine. The New Jersey-based company is one of the few companies in the world to have reached the final stage of human testing.
"We have temporarily suspended further dosing in all clinical trials with COVID-19 vaccine candidates ... due to an unexplained illness in one study participant," the company said. Further details will be announced after the study participant's condition is assessed in more detail.
"We are committed to providing transparent updates throughout the clinical development process for our vaccine candidate," he added.
It was also assured that "adverse events - illnesses, accidents, etc. - even those that are serious are an expected part of any clinical trial, especially large trials."
Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine trial hits a hurdle. (Photo: Andrei Stanescu via Getty Images)
British drug maker AstraZeneca temporarily stopped testing its vaccine candidate last month after a study participant fell ill. This process has resumed in several countries, but not in the United States. He was seen as a leading contender on the path to an effective and safe vaccine.
AstraZeneca, which works with Oxford University, is waiting for a decision from US regulators on whether testing can resume in America, according to Bloomberg. The participant of the clinical study who fell ill comes from Great Britain.
Both cases are a wake-up call about the hurdles in developing a reliable vaccine. President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available by the November 3rd election, but most experts predict that one or more could be available well into 2021.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN's Chris Cuomo that such a pause in testing is "fully expected" during the development of a vaccine. Jha also called it a “reminder of how ridiculous it is to have a political schedule for vaccination before November 3rd.
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