Johnson & Johnson Pauses COVID-19 Vaccine Trials


Avari Wang, Staff Writer

Johnson & Johnson has recently become the second company, next to Eli Lilly and Company, to pause their COVID-19 vaccine trials due to an unexplained illness. Out of the 60 thousand volunteers involved in this particular trial, one was found with an illness, which caused the company to halt their entire experiment for the time being. This event is definitely a setback, due to how much the trials have advanced already. 

Not long before Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trial pause, the first trial that was put on hold was in Britain. A single volunteer was found to have developed “severe neurological symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord.”

Although this temporary pause is obviously unfavorable, experts say that scientists should not be too worried about the rest of their trials in the near future. 

“Johnson’s Phase 3 trial started in September. It’s one of six coronavirus vaccines being tested in the US, and one of the four of the most advanced,” as reassured by CNN. Because of the sheer size of the experiment, it is expected that a few of the volunteers will experience unexpected symptoms and illnesses. The truth is, these symptoms can be either caused by the vaccine itself, or just by coincidence. 

In fact, Johnson & Johnson has still yet to announce whether the participant who contracted the unexplained illness received the actual vaccine or a placebo. A placebo is a pill or medicine that is used in an experiment that is harmless, but this information is unbeknownst to the person who receives it.

There are actually multiple other factors that could contribute to the possibility of the cause of the illness being non vaccine-related, including age, heredity, and so forth. The participant’s name and personal information will not be released to the public; however, due to their wishes to keep this information private. 

The date for when the vaccine will be available to the general public is still undetermined and largely unknown to the experimenters themselves. However, some “COVID-19 vaccine trackers” online have predicted that the vaccine will be ready in about 12 to 18 months. Vaccines generally take years to develop, but due to the vast number of those affected by COVID-19 at the moment, researchers are in a race to finish their trials soon. As explained by The Guardian, vaccines “must follow higher safety standards than other drugs because they are given to millions of healthy people.”

Hopefully, the uncertainty behind the unexplained illnesses can be resolved soon, so the vaccine trials can resume as soon as possible.