Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that its early stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine will start in July, two months ahead of schedule.
“Based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development of our investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant,” Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, said in a statement.
“Simultaneously, we are continuing our efforts to build important global partnerships and invest in our vaccine production technology and manufacturing capabilities.”
#JNJ announces accelerated initiation of its lead #COVID19 vaccine candidate’s Phase 1/2a first-in-human clinical trial. Learn about this milestone announcement & how J&J is significantly investing to increase manufacturing capacity for global access: https://t.co/2AElfzCUjD pic.twitter.com/w0W4XoK7BT
— Johnson & Johnson (@JNJNews) June 11, 2020
He added, “Our goal is to ensure we can deliver a vaccine to the world and protect people everywhere from this pandemic.”
The pharmaceutical company began developing a vaccine for COVID-19 in January by using the same technology it used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine, CNBC reported.
Development involves combining genetic material from the novel coronavirus with a modified adenovirus, which causes the common cold.
The early stage human trial will test the vaccine on 1,045 healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old and healthy adults above 65 years of age.
Johnson & Johnson is one pharmaceutical company that has partnered with the U.S. government to produce up to 1 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine for use around the world throughout 2021.
The company is working directly with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Forbes reported that Johnson & Johnson entered into the $1 billion deal with the federal government to develop the vaccine in March.
Under the terms of the agreement, the government will pay $456 million and Johnson & Johnson will cover the rest of the cost for the vaccine’s research, development and testing.
As of June 2, there were 124 possible COVID-19 vaccines under development, according to the World Health Organization.
Moderna Inc. announced promising results at the end of May regarding early testing of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The company said the vaccine appeared safe and able to ward off the virus, though detailed results have yet to be published.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed “cautious optimism” regarding the Moderna results.
“Having looked at the data myself, it is really quite promising,” Fauci told NPR.
“The vaccine induced what we call neutralizing antibodies, as opposed to just binding antibodies, and neutralizing antibodies are antibodies that actually can block the virus,” he said.
As of Thursday, there were over 7.4 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 418,392 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
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