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COVID Antibody Treatment Paused as J&J Halts Vaccine Test and WHO Warns Against Harsh Lockdowns

Lab technicians working on a coronavirus vaccine at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Lab technicians working on a coronavirus vaccine at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

An antibody treatment for COVID-19 has now been put on hold after a safety issue led officials to pause a COVID-19 antibody therapy Tuesday being developed by Eli Lilly. 

And Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has also paused a late-stage study for a potential COVID-19 vaccine while the company investigates whether an "unexplained illness" with one of the study's participants is related to the shot. The company said in a statement that illnesses, accidents, and other so-called adverse events "are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies."

Additionally, physicians and a safety monitoring panel are working to determine what could have caused the illness.

The pause encompasses all trials, including a large phase-3 trial that launched in September and focused on recruiting 60,000 people in the US and several other countries.

J&J Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said on Tuesday the company remains optimistic the delay will conclude after a few days, but the illness is "still under investigation, and we're going to let that process play out." He added, "Right now it's in the hands of the independent drug-safety monitoring board."

CBN News previously reported on another COVID-19 vaccine that was placed on hold last month after a volunteer came down with an unexplained illness. AstraZeneca, the company developing the vaccine with Oxford University in the United Kingdom, instructed researchers to pause the vaccine trial as a precautionary measure. 

J&J's CFO explained the potential for obstacles and setbacks to arise during these types of trials. "This is the largest vaccine study that's out there," Wolk said. "It's endeavoring to study 60,000 patients. When you have a study of that size, it's not uncommon to see unexpected illnesses within the population. That's for any drug across any therapeutic area. This is something that's not foreign in the development process."

WHO Warns Against Lockdowns

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) officials are now warning against lockdowns as a way to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the organization's health emergencies program explained the significance of preventing another widespread lockdown. "What we want to try and avoid, and sometimes it's unavoidable - we accept that - but what we want to try and avoid are these massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else," he said. 

"So, we don't want to flip from no cases, everything's open, a few cases, everything shuts down again, because that's exactly the sort of scenario that we want to try and avoid."

Ryan added that instead of lockdowns, countries should focus on surveillance, tracking, education, and other measures.

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