Johnson & Johnson Announces a Lead Vaccine Candidate for COVID-19

indica News Bureau-

 

Johnson & Johnson says it aims to have more than half a billion coronavirus vaccines ready early next year. The announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020; the significant expansion of the existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); and the rapid scaling of the Company’s manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.

“Johnson & Johnson has been actively engaged in fighting pandemics for over a century. We have done it before, and we will do it again,” said a company’s statement.

“With our global reach comes a responsibility and unique ability to leverage our deep scientific expertise and extensive partnerships to take on this challenge. Our more than 130,000 employees around the world are mobilizing with urgency to address the critical needs of families, communities and healthcare providers around the world,” it added.

The pharmaceutical giant will have 600 million to 800 million vaccines available in early 2021, when it expects the US government to approve the drug it plans to start testing in humans this September, reported Yahoo.

The Company expects to initiate human clinical studies of its lead vaccine candidate at the latest by September 2020 and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021, a substantially accelerated timeframe in comparison to the typical vaccine development process.

“As part of its commitment, Johnson & Johnson is also expanding the Company’s global manufacturing capacity, including through the establishment of new U.S. vaccine manufacturing capabilities and scaling up capacity in other countries. The additional capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and will enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine globally. The Company plans to begin production at risk imminently and is committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use,” the company said in its statement.

“The timeline still is pretty certain,” CEO of Johnson & Johnson Joseph Wolk said to Yahoo Finance in an interview. “We’re manufacturing at risk to ensure that should the clinical development and the trials be successful, we are in a position to kind of flip the switch and ready to go to create great access across the globe.”

The company aims to ramp up production to 1 billion doses annually by the end of next year, Wolk said in the interview. J&J and the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority announced a $1 billion investment last month to help achieve that goal.

J&J plans to set up a new manufacturing facility in the US to supplement the company’s plant in the Netherlands that can produce up to 300 million doses. The stateside factory will be up and running later this year or early next year, Wolk told Yahoo.

Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson, said, “The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible. As the world’s largest healthcare company, we feel a deep responsibility to improve the health of people around the world every day. Johnson & Johnson is well positioned through our combination of scientific expertise, operational scale and financial strength to bring our resources in collaboration with others to accelerate the fight against this pandemic.”

Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, said, “We greatly value the U.S. government’s confidence and support for our R&D efforts. Johnson & Johnson’s global team of experts has ramped up our research and development processes to unprecedented levels, and our teams are working tirelessly alongside BARDA, scientific partners, and global health authorities. We are very pleased to have identified a lead vaccine candidate from the constructs we have been working on since January. We are moving on an accelerated timeline toward Phase 1 human clinical trials at the latest by September 2020 and, supported by the global production capability that we are scaling up in parallel to this testing, we expect a vaccine could be ready for emergency use in early 2021.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with more than 137,000 confirmed deaths. By Thursday, the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States had grown to more than 641,000 cases in all states with 28,267 reported deaths.