On the 30th March, Johnson & Johnson announced that they had selected a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Through the expansion of the partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the company’s manufacturing capacity has been increased to aim to globally supply more than 1bn doses of vaccine.
According to the company, human clinical trials of its lead vaccine candidate will be initiated no later than September 2020.
The company anticipates the first emergency use of the vaccine could be authorised by early 2021.
In comparison, this timeframe is much faster than the typical vaccine development process.
BARDA and Johnson & Johnson have committed more than $1bn of investment towards vaccine research, development and clinical testing.
There will also be additional funding to enable expansion of on-going work to identify potential anti-viral treatments.
The global manufacturing capacity of the company will be expanded to assist in accelerating development of the vaccine.
The company also state that the vaccine is to be affordable for the public and distributed on a not-for-profit basis for emergency use.
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.”
The lead vaccine candidate was identified after the company acquired the COVID-19 sequence in January 2020.
Multiple vaccine candidates were tested using the Janssen AdVac technology through research teams at Janssen.
There are also two back-ups to the lead vaccine candidate.
Phase 1 of the clinical study will begin in September 2020 with clinical data on safety and efficacy expected to be available by the end of the year.
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.”