Johnson & Johnson has on Monday announced the selection of a lead Covid-19 vaccine candidate from the research it has been doing on vaccine constructs since January 2020.
The vaccine constructs were tested to identify those with the most promise in producing an immune response in preclinical testing and a lead Covid-19 vaccine candidate (with two backups) was chosen to progress into the first manufacturing steps.
The company said it expected to start testing the vaccine “at the latest by September 2020” and anticipated the first batches to be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, said the company in a statement.
The pharmaceutical giant said it had partnered with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda), a division of the US department of health and human services and committed more than $1 billion to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing.
Johnson & Johnson and Barda have allocated additional funding and expanded its global manufacturing capacity to expand on their ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatments against the Covid-19, the company said.
Production is expected to start “soon” and this will enable the supply of more than one billion doses of “a safe and effective” vaccine globally on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.
Alex Gorsky, the chairman and chief executive officer for Johnson & Johnson, 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. Johnson & Johnson 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.”
There is currently no approved vaccine, treatment or cure for Covid-19, which has infected more than 730,000 people and killed at least 30,000 globally.
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)