Covid-19 Vaccine Trials hit a pause

Three high-profile, late-stage clinical trials announce a temporary pause of its potential COVID-19 vaccine due to an unexplained illness contracted by one of the participants.


3 major trials suspended 

Following Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson suspended the clinical trial of its potential vaccine against Covid-19 on October 12. 


Johnson & Johnson in their late-stage testing for a potential vaccination to combat the coronavirus, is the 4th drugmaker backed by the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed. At this stage, the american laboratory is concentrating their efforts on analysing and evaluating the participants’ illness by both inhouse physicians and external specialists to determine whether or not it is related to the experimental vaccine. "We have temporarily halted additional dosing in all of our clinical trials of an investigational Covid-19 vaccine, including the entire Phase 3 trial, due to unexplained illness in one participant," the group said in a press release. The online registration system for recruiting new participants is also temporarily closed. J&J planned to seek 60,000 participants in several countries for Phase 3 of the trial.

This statement comes after a similar setback announced on Sept. 8 by AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, putting its trial on hold due to an unexplained illness in a patient in the United Kingdom. The patient is believed to have developed inflammation of the spinal cord, known as transverse myelitis. The trial has since resumed in the U.K. and other countries, but is still on hold in the United States. In a statement in September, AstraZeneca said it paused its trial to investigate “a single event of an unexplained illness.” But two vaccinated volunteers reportedly developed the same condition, an inflammation of the spinal cord called transverse myelitis.

Following suit, the American pharmaceutical group Eli Lilly announced on Tuesday, 13th October the suspension of their clinical trial on experimental treatment with antibodies against Covid-19 for non-detailed safety reasons. "We know that, as a precautionary measure, the independent health monitoring committee of the ACTIV-3 trial recommended a pause in recruitment,” said a spokesman in reference to a trial involving hospitalized Covid-19 patients.  “Lilly supports the independent committee's decision to exercise caution in ensuring the safety of patients participating in the trial. 


Other trials around the world - Top 5 vaccine candidates in Phase III trial stage


While there are over 150 coronavirus vaccines globally at various development stages, here are the other 5 candidates in stage three trials or beyond, raising global hopes that at least one or more will be available for widespread distribution during the first half of 2021.


1) BioNTech/FosunPharma/Pfizer

Clinical Stage: Phase-III 

Vaccine roll out: 2020 End 

American pharma major Pfizer and BioNTech have collaborated to develop a potential coronavirus vaccine, which has reached Phase III clinical trial stage. Pfizer has already manufactured thousands of doses and might launch the vaccine by year end, CEO Albert Bourla said recently. The Trump government has already placed an initial order of 100 million doses for $1.95 billion.


2) CanSino Biological Inc and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology

Clinical Stage: Phase-III 

Vaccine roll out: 2021 

CanSino was the first pharma company in the world to have begun developing a vaccine for the deadly virus. The Chinese firm started developing the vaccine way back in March and has now reached Stage III clinical trial. Phase I and Phase II have been approved by The Lancet. Chinese researchers also claim that this vaccine will cure people from other mutations of the virus.


3) Gamaleya Research Institute Clinical 

Vaccine roll out: Already launched in Russia (without Phase III trial)

Russia was the first nation to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 and it also got it approved by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute on August 11. The vaccine was approved after completion of Phase-I and Phase-II trials. On September 8, the Russian government sought India’s help in manufacturing the Sputnik vaccine and also to conduct Phase III trials in India. 


4) Wuhan Institute of Biological Products/ Sinopharm

Clinical Stage – Phase III 

Sinopharm, the Chinese pharmaceutical company was the first to begin the work on Coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is being developed in Wuhan – the epicenter of Coronavirus. 


5) Moderna/NIAID Clinical Stage 

Clinical Stage - Phase III 

Vaccine roll out Early 2021 

The company initiated phase-3 clinical trial on July 27. In Phase-3, the vaccine will be tested on 30,000 volunteers. It may roll out Covid-19 vaccine by 1st half of 2021.