Delay in Covid Vaccine

Author: Abbie Giles

Posted September 25th, 2020


    As the general public, we seem to have received false hope when it comes to any Covid-19 vaccination or treatment. But scientists and researchers are tirelessly trying to find a cure. Recently, two of these studies shut down due to safety concerns. What does this mean for the search for the vaccine?


    Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Study

    Johnson and Johnson had been performing a clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine that started on September 13th, 2020, and is taking place in the United States as well as a few other countries. Like other trials, it was being conducted to measure the safety and the efficacy of their vaccine using a control group who was given a placebo and a group who was given one dose of the vaccine. A separate group was given two doses, but they won’t necessarily be compared to the findings of the other two groups. The 60,000 patient trial was paused due to an unexplained illness in one of its many participants. 

    Now, it is crucial to understand that paused doesn’t mean stopped or ended. Many clinical trials, especially ones of this size, have been paused for one reason or another. One source familiar with the study was quoted saying, “If we do a study of 60,000 people, that is a small village. In a small village, there are a lot of medical events that happen.” Many clinical trials under these circumstances have begun again in a matter of days, however, it is very possible for a trial like this to pause again. 


    Eli Lilly Antibody Trial

    The trial being conducted by Eli Lilly, an American pharmaceutical manufacturer, was testing a monoclonal antibody cocktail that they thought would treat Covid-19. The preliminary analysis had shown that the patients that had been administered this cocktail had shown a reduced amount of the virus in nasal swabs after approximately 11 days. This trial saw 112 participants given either the monoclonal antibody cocktail or a placebo and monitored for the days following.

    This study was paused within 24 hours of the Johnson and Johnson study due to a significant difference in the health of one of the groups. They had reached a “predefined boundary of safety” after only 5 days of the study. It was not made clear which group had crossed the safety boundary. The National Institute of Health has said they will reconvene and reevaluate this trial on October 26th.


    What does this mean for a possible vaccine or antibody treatment? To be completely honest, it’s hard to tell. It is important to note that these studies could have been halted for any number of reasons, good or bad. However, there hasn’t been enough information released to come to a conclusion about the fate of either of these trials. The Eli Lilly antibody treatment had been expected to be available to the public by the fourth quarter of 2020 prior to this possible set back, could they still meet this deadline? As of now, it’s hard to tell if these trials are going well and therefore, hard to determine how soon we could be getting any treatment for Covid-19.