Two COVID-19 vaccine trials and a treatment study put on pause

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Recent pauses to two large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trials and a treatment study should reassure people – not frighten them – vaccine experts said, though it is a reminder of the messiness of science.

USA Today reports that this is according to Lawrence Gostin, a public health and legal expert at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University who said: “This is an indication that the system is working as it was designed to work to protect human subjects in clinical trials. It demonstrates that the ethical guard rails on vaccine trials are working.” It’s not unusual for late-stage trials of drugs and vaccines to be stopped briefly to examine safety concerns, he and others said.

The report says the discovery of an adverse event and a pause in the clinical trial is actually reassuring, said Dr Bali Pulendran, a professor of immunology and vaccine design at Stanford University.

Eli Lilly announced on Tuesday (13 October) it was pausing a trial of an experimental drug similar to one President Donald Trump recently claimed cured him of COVID-19. On Monday (12 October), Johnson & Johnson halted a large-scale trial of a candidate COVID-19 vaccine. And, in September, British regulators put a hold on another trial of a candidate vaccine by AstraZeneca. They lifted the hold a week later, but it has continued in the US arm of the study.

The report says according to a new poll from Informa Pharma Intelligence, a business intelligence provider, and research firm YouGov, 35% of Americans don’t trust how quickly the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials are moving and 23% don’t think pharmaceutical companies have consumers’ best interests in mind.

The public may have unrealistic expectations of a vaccine that’s “100% effective and 150% safe,” said Alan Barrett, director of the Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

 

Full USA Today report

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