Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday its early-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine will begin in the second half of July, earlier than its initial forecast of September.
“Based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development of our investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant,” J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said in a press release.
The company began developing a Covid-19 vaccine in January.
It is using the same technologies it used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine, which was provided to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2019. It involves combing genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause common colds in humans.
J&J said earlier this year that if the vaccine works well and is safe it could produce 600 million to 900 million doses by April 2021. The company said Wednesday it is committed to the goal of supplying more than 1 billion doses globally through the course of 2021, provided the vaccine is safe and effective.
J&J’s early-stage trial will test its vaccine on 1,045 healthy adults ages 18 to 55 years as well as adults ages 65 years and older. It will take place in the United States and Belgium.
The effort by J&J is one of several working on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19, which has sickened more than 7.2 million people worldwide and killed at least 411,879, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
There are at least 124 Covid-19 vaccines under development as of June 2, according to the World Health Organization. At least 10 of those are already in clinical trials.
The National Institutes of Health has been fast-tracking work with biotech firm Moderna on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19.
Moderna expects to enroll about 30,000 people when it begins a phase three trial in July, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.