the times | Wednesday October 14 2020 1GM 11
An American study of a potential
vaccine has been halted in the late
stages by Johnson & Johnson after a
participant developed an “unexplained
The pharmaceutical company
announced the decision on Monday
night, saying that illnesses and acci-
dents “are an expected part of any clini-
cal study, especially large studies”.
It said that doctors and a safety moni-
toring panel were trying to determine
the cause of the unspecified illness.
It is the second known suspension of
a coronavirus vaccine trial in the US.
Final-stage testing of a vaccine being
developed by Astrazeneca and Oxford
University is on hold as officials exam-
ine whether its trial poses a safety risk.
That trial was stopped after a woman
developed severe neurological symp-
toms consistent with transverse myeli-
tis, a rare inflammation of the spinal
cord. It has restarted in some other
countries, including the UK.
Pauses to medical trials are relatively
common and are not usually made
public but the focus on vaccine devel-
opment has magnified even potentially
minor complications. The latest sus-
pension was first reported by Stat, a
health news website.
Yesterday morning shares in John-
son & Johnson, which is based in New
Jersey, fell about 2 per cent.
The company was aiming to enrol
60,000 volunteers to prove that its
single-dose vaccine was safe and
protects against the coronavirus.
Unlike its rivals, the vaccine does not
rules to block a second wave
Confirmed cases in Europe
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct
Confirmed deaths in Europe
6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct
Rules: Madrid partly locked down
and gatherings limited to six. Bars
and restaurants close by 11pm;
similar in Catalonia. Outdoor
gatherings limited to 10 in most
parts, and masks mandatory.
Travel: Restrictions on all non-EU
countries except Australia, Canada,
Georgia, Japan, New Zealand,
Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand,
Tunisia, Uruguay and China
Rules: No curbs for bars and
restaurants except in city of
Uppsala where they must close
at 11pm. Outdoor and indoor
gatherings allowed up to 50, or
more for weddings.
Travel: Non-essential visits from
outside EU, UK and Switzerland
are banned. Exemptions for
relatives and seasonal farm
Rules: Bars & restaurants
required to close by 11pm.
Festivals are banned and
gatherings outside are limited to
a maximum of 10, the same limit
Travel: Open to EU travellers and
a few other countries including
Australia, Canada, China, South
Korea, and New Zealand. US
tourists are barred
trial halted after
volunteer falls ill
Henry Zeffman Washington
need two shots to be effective and does
not need to be frozen.
Companies are compelled to investi-
gate any unexpected reaction that
occurs during drug trials. Given that
tests are conducted on tens of
thousands of people, there is a high
probability of some coincidental
complication. The first step Johnson &
Johnson is likely to take will be to
ascertain whether the participant who
became ill was given the vaccine or a
Phyllis Tien, an infectious disease
expert at the University of California,
San Francisco, told The New York
Times: “It’s actually a good thing that
these companies are pausing these
trials when these things come up. We
just need to let the sponsor and the
safety board do their review and let us
know their findings.”
Luciana Borio, a former head of
public health preparedness for Presi-
dent Trump, added: “It doesn’t mean
that the adverse event is related to the
vaccine, but it needs to be investigated
Meanwhile a trial of an antibody
treatment developed by the drug com-
pany Eli Lilly was also paused because
of a “potential safety concern”.
The trial was testing the effects of the
antibody therapy on hundreds of
people hospitalised with Covid-19.
The Eli Lilly treatment is similar to
the Regeneron antibody cocktail which
President Trump received in a military
hospital earlier this month. He has
since hailed it as a “cure” and claimed it
will be distributed to all infected Ameri-
cans for free.
Test tents appear as China
screens 4.2m in two days
Didi Tang Beijing
Within two days of beginning to screen
all nine million people living in the port
city of Qingdao to try to curb a new
cluster of virus cases, the Chinese
authorities have collected 4.2 million
samples and tested almost half of them.
In a sign of the authorities’ ability to
screen large numbers of people quickly,
tented testing centres have sprouted up
in public squares and residential com-
pounds, where health workers in PPE
collect samples from queuing locals.
The tests are free and to boost effi-
ciency the collected swabs are tested in
large batches rather than individually.
If the results from the group tests come
back positive the individual samples
within that group are then reanalysed
to determine who within it is positive.
Hygiene officials ordered the mass
testing after three asymptomatic carri-
ers were identified at a local hospital,
part of which has been used to quaran-
tine travellers from overseas, and tests
of their close contacts uncovered nine
more cases. That triggered the citywide
testing scheme as authorities try to de-
termine the true scale of the outbreak
and prevent it spreading. Hundreds of
testing centres are now operational in
the city, with a core staff of 10,000.
China claims to have essentially
eradicated domestic circulation of the
virus, with the new cases it has detected
recently almost all imported. As a result
there are virtually no domestic restric-
tions and economic activity is rising. No
more cases are known to have yet been
found from the mass testing in Qing-
dao, which is a commercial centre
known for electronics and the country’s
most famous beer, as well as for being
the home of the navy’s northern fleet.
Quick city-scale screening has been
used elsewhere: all nine million inhab-
itants of Wuhan, for example, where
the virus is thought to have originated,
were voluntarily tested in a 15-day
period from May 14.
China has reported 4,634 deaths
from coronavirus and 85,591 cases. The
last reported local outbreak was in the
northwestern city of Urumqi, in the far
western Xinjiang region, last month.
6 About 100 members of the Hong
Kong Philharmonic Orchestra are
being quarantined after one of them
tested positive. The orchestra had
begun its new season last Friday with a
sold-out socially distanced concert.
had a temperature and a cough. A
second test proved positive and she
died three weeks later. Twenty-
three cases of second coronavirus
infections have been reported.
The prime minister is in quarantine
after coming into contact with an
infected person. Mateusz
Morawiecki called on Poles to wear
masks and follow social distancing.
The shalaika, a jackal-dog hybrid
developed in the 1970s by a Soviet
biologist to help to stop opium
smuggling from Afghanistan, is
being taught to detect coronavirus
in humans by smelling urine
samples from infected patients.
Nine hundred people have paid up
to £357 to dine on board a grounded
Singapore Airlines A380 super-
jumbo. With the industry in crisis,
airlines have found other ways to
raise cash, including aircraft tours.
A Japanese tourist who has been
stranded in Peru for seven months
has been given a solo tour of the
ruins of Machu Picchu. Jesse
Takayama, 26, a boxing coach, has
now been allowed to fly home.
Football stadiums will reopen at a
quarter of their normal capacity
from Friday. Baseball, the country’s
most popular spectator sport,
resumed this week with fans in
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
(^121) Reported new cases
Countries with populations greater than 20 million
1 2 3 4 5 6
Countries reporting most deaths
Deaths per million population
Most new cases