Johnson & Johnson Shares Fall After COVID-19 Vaccine Stall

February 3, 2018 Fremont / CA / USA - Johnson & Johnson logo in front of one of their office buildings, Fremont, East San Francisco bay area, California.
Sundry Photography /

Johnson & Johnson stock looks to be feeling the nasty side effects of bad company news, dropping 2.3% on Tuesday. The dip follows news reported by STAT on late Monday night that, following an unexplained illness experienced by a participant, the company has paused its late-stage coronavirus vaccine study.

CFO Joseph Wolk expanded on the company statement on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” stating, “We’re letting safety protocol follow proper procedure here.” He added that the pause in the vaccine study should “reassure the public that every scientific, medical and ethical standard is being applied here.”

Phase three of Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials, which rolled out in September, comprised 60,000 participants — twice the size of trial studies from fellow vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer. It’s not clear just how close to the finish line Johnson & Johnson was before progress was halted due to the “adverse event,” as the participant’s illness has been described. There’s also no word on what exactly the person is suffering from.

“We must respect this participant’s privacy,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement late Monday. “We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information.”

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There’s also no word yet on if or when the trial will resume. Just as it remains in question what a future vaccine might cost.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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