Avoid Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) at the moment.
The stock is down $2.50 and could easily sink lower, near-term. All after the company halted its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials after a participant fell ill. This is now the second time it’s had to pause testing as it races towards a vaccine, says Bloomberg.
“We’re going to have to get used to hearing these sorts of reports of pauses,” Hassan Vally, an associate professor in epidemiology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said by email. “As you vaccinate more people in these trials the chances are that there will be some illnesses in participants. The only difference here is that in the world that we live in right now, the progress of these trials is in the public eye, and so we are riding every bump.”
Right now, we’re unaware if the participant received the placebo or the vaccine.
At the same time, this does demonstrate that companies do have great safeguards in place.
“One adverse event is serious, especially when you’re considering a vaccine that you’re going to roll out to tens, hundreds of millions of people, maybe even billions,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former health advisor in the Obama administration. “That’s the ultimate concern.”
In addition, Johnson & Johnson isn’t the only company that has seen a halt.
In early September 2020, AstraZeneca trials were put on hold after an unexplained illness in a patient in the UK. That patient is believed to have developed transverse myelitis. While the trial has since resumed in the UK and other countries, it’s still on hold in the U.S.