Another major drug producer, Johnson & Johnson has announced that it has paused its COVID-19 vaccine trial.
The announcement on Monday night according to the company is due to one of the volunteers coming down with an “unexplained illness.”
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said that under its guidelines, the “participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated” by the study’s independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB), as well as internal clinical and safety physicians.
It said “adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies.”
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine clinical trial for Phase three started in September covering 60,000 participants.
Each person is receiving one dose of the vaccine. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN that the pause is “completely expected” due to how large the study is, and this is “just a reminder how ridiculous it is to try and meet a political timeline of having a vaccine before Nov. 3.”
Jha added that it is important for the vaccine to be “safe and we’ve got to let the process play out and it’s going to take a while. To me, it’s reassuring that companies are acting responsibly and pausing when they need to.”
In September another Drug giant AstraZeneca paused global trials of its coronavirus vaccine because of again an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.
Pausing trials is a standard precaution in vaccine trials that is meant to ensure experimental vaccines don’t cause serious reactions among participants.
Common adverse events in vaccine trials include fever, headache, soreness at the injection site and muscle pain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already said that a vaccine against COVID-19 may be ready by end of this year.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who gave the signal did not elaborate further though.
He said earlier this month that “We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope.”
Tedros made this comment in closing remarks to the WHO’s Executive Board meeting that examined the global response to the pandemic.
He called for solidarity and political commitment by all world leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available.