Johnson & Johnson halts development of RSV vaccine in midst of late-stage clinical trials


Janssen, the pharmaceutical division of the Johnson & Johnson companies, announced Wednesday that it will scrap development of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in adults.

The company was in late-stage clinical trials of a vaccine to prevent lower respiratory tract disease in adults over the age of 60 with RSV. The vaccine being tested was using an adenovirus vector platform, similar to the technology behind in its Covid-19 vaccine.

In an email to CNN, Johnson & Johnson did not elaborate further on the company’s reasons for shelving the vaccine, which had had looked promising in its phase II study including nearly 6,000 adults in 40 study sites across the US.

The findings of that study, which were published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that the vaccine was 70% effective at preventing RSV infection with one symptom and 80% effective at preventing more severe illness due to RSV.

The move comes shortly after rival drugmakers Pfizer and GSK posted positive results for RSV vaccine candidates targeted to older adults.

J&J’s stage III clinical trial had enrolled more than 27,000 patients at over 300 study sites in the US and other countries, according to, a public database of ongoing research.

The company said in a news release that the trial was being stopped after a portfolio review “to prioritize the most transformational assets for ongoing investment” and after an assessment of the “respiratory syncytial virus vaccine landscape.”

“By periodically refocusing our portfolio, Janssen ensures that we are deeply invested in products that have the power to transform patients’ lives,” Dr. Bill Hait, medical officer and interim head of Janssen research and development, said in the release.

“We remain focused on advancing our differentiated pipeline, improving the lives of millions of patients and developing new modalities in areas with the greatest unmet medical need,” Hait said.