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2 Late-Stage Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates in Limbo

By Keith Speights - Oct 21, 2020 at 12:14PM

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U.S. phase 3 studies for AstraZeneca's and Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccines still haven't resumed. Should investors be worried?

Tremendous progress has been made in advancing coronavirus vaccine candidates through clinical testing. However, late-stage studies for two of the leading candidates, one developed by AstraZeneca ( AZN 2.18% ) and the other developed by Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ 2.23% ), are on hold in the U.S. after potential safety issues were observed. In this Fool Live video, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and longtime Motley Fool contributor Keith Speights discuss the status of these two late-stage coronavirus vaccines that are in limbo and whether or not investors should be concerned.

Corinne Cardina: Let's talk about the trials that are paused. You mentioned AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, both of their trials in the U.S. are on hold. I think AstraZeneca has gotten the go-ahead to resume in other countries. Should investors be concerned? Or is this par for the course? Especially when you consider the speed at which we have really zoomed from identifying the virus to phase 3 trials.

Keith Speights: I personally don't think there's a reason to be concerned at this point. Could there be down the road? Yeah. If more data comes out and there really is a serious health and safety problem with these vaccines, then you'd be concerned, but this is typical.

This occurs not only in vaccine clinical trials, it occurs in vaccines that have already been approved and are on the market. As a case in point, my wife received a vaccine several years ago, and for about a day she was experiencing fever and chills, and it was just her body mounting an immune system response to the virus that had been injected into our bodies. So it's not uncommon at all if you look at some of the most popular and most biggest selling vaccines on the market right now, like the shingles vaccine Shingrix or the pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar 13. They have many of the same types of side effects that we're seeing in several of these clinical trials of coronavirus vaccines.

Corinne Cardina: Yeah, it's worth noting that Pfizer ( PFE -5.14% ) and Moderna ( MRNA -13.49% ) participants did experience mild side effects as well, and that is sight pain, fatigue. Those trials were not paused because they were not as concerning, so definitely seems like it's kind of the nature of the beast when you're talking about a vaccine.

Keith Speights: Exactly. I will also put a plug in for everyone to get their flu shots this season. I received my flu shot a couple of weeks ago. And they talked about the injection sight pain, I experienced it with the flu shot. Many people are going to have that, and so those are the kind of things that I wouldn't be worried about at all.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$51.48 (-5.14%) $-2.79
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$162.94 (2.23%) $3.56
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
AZN
$55.41 (2.18%) $1.18
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$265.33 (-13.49%) $-41.39

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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