CAPE TOWN – U.S. drug maker Johnson & Johnson announced on Monday, that it has paused the clinical trials for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate after an unexplained illness by a participant.
Johnson & Johnson had just launched its wide scale testing of its single-dose experimental vaccine. The trial involves 60,000 volunteers across more than 200 locations in the United States and internationally, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and South Africa.
Locally the trial is being executed in association with the University of Cape Town (UCT) Lung Institute (one of several trial sites in the country) under the guidance of Professor Keertan Dheda, the head of the Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity at the UCT Lung Institute.
“We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our Covid-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant,” the company was quoted by the AFP news agency.
In September, trials on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University were paused after a UK volunteer developed an unexplained illness.
The vaccine is one of the most advanced Western projects, having already been tested on tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide including in South Africa.
Trials resumed earlier this month in Japan but not the United States, where AstraZeneca is working with regulators. There are currently nearly 180 vaccine candidates being tested around the world, but none has yet completed clinical trials.
The Johnson & Johnson jab, like the Oxford University Astra Zeneca one, is in the advanced stage of testing. Both use a modified common cold virus to prime the immune system against Covid-19.
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