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Johnson & Johnson launches phase three trials for potential coronavirus vaccine

Johnson & Johnson launches phase three trials for potential coronavirus vaccine
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Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday announced that it has begun phase three trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine, making it the fourth potential vaccine to begin the late-stage trials in the United States. 

The move adds to the array of potential vaccines that are being tested, with the hope that multiple candidates will prove safe and effective and help meet the enormous national and international demand. 

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not furthest along in the timeline, trailing candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, it does have some potential advantages if it proves safe and effective. 

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Unlike some of the other potential vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson candidate requires just one dose, not two, which would make a vaccination campaign easier. It also does not require storage at extremely cold temperatures, unlike some of the other candidates. 

The company said the first doses could be ready in “early 2021” if the vaccine proves safe and effective. 

Shortly after the announcement, President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE urged the Food and Drug Administration to move quickly.

"Big news," the president tweeted. "Numerous great companies are seeing fantastic results. @FDA must move quickly!"

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The Trump administration has touted vaccine makers' progress. 

"To have just one candidate vaccine in phase three trials less than a year after a virus was first reported would be a remarkable accomplishment; to have four candidates at that stage is extraordinary," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. "By building a portfolio of candidate vaccines, Operation Warp Speed is maximizing the chances that we will have substantial supplies of a safe and effective vaccine — and maybe multiple vaccine options — by January 2021."

The trial will enroll up to 60,000 people across three continents, the company said. 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Average US daily COVID-19 cases below 40K for first time since September Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins MORE, the government’s top infectious disease expert, added in a statement that “it is likely that multiple COVID-19 vaccine regimens will be required to meet the global need.” 

“The [Johnson & Johnson] candidate has showed promise in early-stage testing and may be especially useful in controlling the pandemic if shown to be protective after a single dose,” he added.