Johnson & Johnson accelerates COVID-19 vaccine trials

By William Girling
Healthcare multinational Johnson & Johnson has announced its intention to step-up Phase 1/2a trials of its SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate...

Healthcare multinational Johnson & Johnson has announced its intention to step-up Phase 1/2a trials of its SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate.

Broadcast via J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutica, scheduling of tests on the potential vaccine - called Ad26.COV2-S - have been brought forward from September to mid-July.

Stating that the accelerated schedule was in-line with positive preliminary research and the consent of authorities, Paul Stoffels, MD, VP and Chief Scientific Officer at J&J, stated that the company’s goal was the swift elimination of coronavirus and the world’s emancipation from its effects:

“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.

“Simultaneously, we are continuing our efforts to build important global partnerships and invest in our vaccine production technology and manufacturing capabilities.”

On a mission to defeat coronavirus

J&J has maintained a consistent focus on developing a vaccine for SARS-COV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) since the early stages of the pandemic.

As chronicled on the company’s website, it identified a potential vaccine candidate and two backups as early as 30 March. At that time, the company projected that a successful drug could be emergency-ready by early 2021, although, with the trial date now pushed forward, this date may be even earlier.

An endeavour which has required the utilisation of its partnerships and network of collaborators, including the aforementioned Janssen, BARDA, BIDMC and others, J&J is highly aware of the challenges ahead.

Pledging to manufacture and supply 1bn doses of any successful vaccine throughout 2021, research and development for the drug will be intense, yet the company is optimistic that such an outcome is achievable, providing it is save and effective.

Safeguarding the future

Additionally, J&J released details of its participation in the ‘Pandemic Action Network’, a joint initiative between it, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Schmidt Futures.

Founded with the intention of bolstering global infrastructure to help prevent future pandemics, the PA Network has three objectives: ensuring that initiatives receive funding, augmenting health security worldwide and accelerating scientific R&D.

“While we focus on stopping COVID-19 now, we must also keep one eye to the future and ensure we are learning from this experience and applying those lessons,” said Adrian Thomas, MD, VP at J&J.

“Effective, sustained and coordinated advocacy about the policy and system reforms necessary to prevent future outbreaks will be critical to ensure this happens. That’s why the world needs the Pandemic Action Network.”


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