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J&J halts COVID-19 vaccine study following unidentified participant illness

Published on 13/10/20 at 01:18pm

Johnson & Johnson has announced its decision to slam the brakes on the development programme for its COVID-19 vaccine following the illness of one of the participants

The pharma giant said that it was “committed to providing transparent updates” on the progress of the developing vaccine in line with regulatory requirements and the company’s own “high ethical and scientific principles”.

The illness has not yet been identified and J&J said it would share more info once the event had been investigated by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board. The company aims to test the therapy in up to 60,000 patients at trial sites around the world. J&J’s shares fell 2.4% on announcement of the decision.

J&J was keen to stress that the occurrence was not out of the ordinary and is not expected to significantly impact further development, stating: “Adverse events, even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies.”

The decision makes J&J the second company to halt a high-profile study in the COVID-19 space, after AstraZeneca chose to pause research of its candidate developed in partnership with the University of Oxford after a participant was struck with an unexplained illness.

Matt Fellows

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