United States pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, has called off clinical trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, following an unexplained illness in one of the participants.
The trigger of the adverse reaction was not instantly obvious and cannot be yet attributed to the vaccine, the drugmaker said in a statement. It did not give further information.
The trial suspension is coming weeks after AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical firm, terminated its trial, after a volunteer developed a mysterious neurological complication.
AstraZeneca, which has been working on its new coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University, is continuing trial in Britain and other countries. The trial however remains suspended in the U.S.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate is among many currently being developed, as governments and the healthcare industry strive to flatten the curve of an outbreak that has caused over a million fatalities. The second wave of infections in Europe which has seen a rise in infections is adding new urgency to the race to find a vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson is the first major pharmaceutical company to test a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine in phase 3 trials.
It said it did not plan to make gain from its vaccine as long as the pandemic lasts.
“It’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information,” the drugmaker said in a late Monday statement, further stating it was not often instantly clear whether a volunteer received a candidate vaccine or a placebo.
An autonomous data safety monitoring board and Johnson & Johnson doctors are evaluating the side effects on the volunteer, the company revealed.
According to the pharmaceutical giant, clinical trials are not strangers to such severe adverse events and their rate of occurrence is anticipated to rise simultaneously as trial progresses and the candidate vaccine is tried on larger numbers of volunteers.
Johnson & Johnson took care to note that it had independently paused the trial, explaining that this is different from a stop order from regulators such as the US Food and Drug Administration which usually lasts a long period.
In its third quarter financial results on Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson announced a marginal growth of 1.7 per cent in turnover to $29.19 billion relative to what was recorded in the same period of 2019 on the back of the performance of its pharmaceutical divisions.
Adjusted earnings per share lifted by 3.8% to $2.20.