According to The Guardian, the trials were suspended a week early out of an abundance of caution after four of the 59 volunteers began to experience the pain. A spokesman for the hospital said on Thursday that the patients are being closely monitored by the medical team in charge of the study.
The vaccine was developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and NewLink. The trials are slated to begin again on January 5 in 15 patients, pending the results of testing performed on the four volunteers suffering from joint pain. The hope is that the pain is just temporary and benign.
The setback is disheartening after The World Health Organization recently announced that Sierra Leone has surpassed Liberia with the largest number of Ebola cases in West Africa. There have been nearly 7,900 cases reported in the region since the start of the outbreak.
The global vaccines alliance, Gavi, has announced that it is prepared to buy $300 million of the vaccine once the World Health Organization approves one for use. My colleague Bruce Levenson shared this story with me.