New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson (J&J) today announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020. The news is the result of the significant expansion of the existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of J&J 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.
J&J 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.
Through a landmark new partnership, BARDA, which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and J&J together have committed more than $1 billion of investment to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing. J&J will use its validated vaccine platform and is allocating resources, including personnel and infrastructure globally, as needed, to focus on these efforts. Separately, BARDA and the Company have provided additional funding that will enable expansion of their ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatments against the novel coronavirus.
As part of its commitment, J&J is also expanding the its 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.
Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO, J&J, 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. J&J 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.”
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