Image obtained from jnj.com

Johnson & Johnson paused its coronavirus vaccine trial after a test participant got ill.

The New-Jersey based corporation temporarily halted its trial of a vaccine for coronavirus, after a test volunteer developed a mysterious illness. This is the second time in two months that a vaccine trial has been paused following an unexplained illness in a test subject.

On Monday, researchers conducting the trial were told to pause testing of the single-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is one of the few companies in the world that has reached the final phase of testing on people. Its testing procedure involves 60,000 volunteers from around the world.

“We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our COVID-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials … due to an unexplained illness in a study participant,” claimed a statement from the company. More details will be revealed after the trial participant’s condition is more thoroughly evaluated, the statement elaborated.

“We are committed to providing transparent updates throughout the clinical development process of our vaccine candidate,” it added. The statement further clarified that “adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies.” 

Refraining from sharing more details, the company said: “We must respect this participant’s privacy. We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information.”

Last month, Oxford University and British drug-maker AstraZeneca suspended their tests of a vaccine candidate when a trial participant fell ill. The patient was believed to have transverse myelitis, a spinal cord problem. Studies of the vaccine resumed roughly a week after it was paused in the United Kingdom, and have since restarted in several countries apart from the United States.  That vaccine has been considered a top contender in the race towards producing an effective vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson began enrolling volunteers in its Phase 3 multi-country study on 23rd September. The company claimed that it is “deploying the full strength of its science, scale and expertise to help fight the pandemic as COVID-19 continues to affect people and communities across the world.”

 It is yet unclear when the trials would resume.

The author is a former member of staff. She writes features on current affairs and is interested in issues of social justice, online behaviors, and popular culture. She tweets at @zainabmsheikh and can be reached at zainabmubashir@thecorrespondent.pk.

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