Johnson & Johnson to begin human coronavirus vaccine testing by September

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The pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson said Monday it had identified a promising candidate vaccine for the coronavirus spreading around the globe and that it expects to begin human trials by September.

The company has partnered with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to speed research into the new vaccine. Together, they said they hope to produce more than 1 billion doses for use around the world.

Johnson & Johnson said it anticipated the first batches of a coronavirus vaccine would be ready for use under emergency use authorizations by early 2021, an almost unprecedented race from initial research to commercially available.

A typical vaccine takes five to seven years of research before it goes to government agencies for approval.

BARDA, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, and Johnson & Johnson each plan to invest $1 billion in research, development and clinical testing, they said in a statement Monday morning.

“We have a candidate that has a high degree of probability of being successful against the COVID-19 virus. We’ve got the production capabilities to be able to ramp up production of this in a relatively short period of time so it can become available,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday on NBC’s “Today.”

Gorsky said the first doses of the vaccine would be ready in the first half of next year and that the company is already starting mass production.

“Literally within the next few days and weeks, we’re going to start ramping up production of these vaccines as well, and we should be able to have several hundred million doses available by the middle of next year. Our goal is to have a billion prepared by the end of 2021,” he said.

Researchers began working on a potential vaccine in January, after Chinese scientists posted genetic information about the novel coronavirus that first emerged in November or December in the city of Wuhan. The research teams said they had identified a lead vaccine candidate, as well as two backups, just two months later.

Tags Coronavirus

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