Johnson & Johnson pauses coronavirus vaccine trials after ‘unexplained illness’

Johnson & Johnson has temporarily paused its clinical trials for a potential novel coronavirus vaccine after an “unexplained illness” in a study participant, the company said Monday.

In a statement posted to its website, the company said the person’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board along with the company’s own physicians.

The company assured that such “serious adverse events” are not uncommon in clinical trials. It’s also not clear if the illness came from the vaccine candidate itself or from a placebo.

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“Adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” the company’s statement reads.

The news comes just over a month after AstraZeneca halted its own trial for a vaccine being developed with Oxford University after a “potentially unexplained illness” in the United Kingdom. The trial resumed six days later.

Johnson & Johnson’s Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials, which began in late September, are one of the largest in the world so far. The company is testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the U.S., South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

The potential vaccine, which is being developed by the company’s subsidiary Janssen in Belgium, is based on vector technology, the same used by AstraZeneca.

More to come..

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