Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) announced a new lead COVI-19 vaccine candidate that the company has been working on since January 2020. The company will expand its existing partnership between Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Johnson & Johnson expects human clinical studies of the vaccine candidate to begin by September 2020 and predicts the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine could be available as early as 2021 pending on the vaccine development process.
The new partnership with BARDA is a fragment of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The companies involved have committed over USD 1 Billion of investment to fund vaccine research, clinical testing & development.
Johnson & Johnson is expanding its global manufacturing capacity which includes the U.S. as it scales up capacity in other countries. This will assist in rapid production of a vaccine. Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 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.”
Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, said, “We greatly value the U.S. government’s confidence and support for our R&D efforts. Johnson & Johnson’s global team of experts has ramped up our research and development processes to unprecedented levels, and our teams are working tirelessly alongside BARDA, scientific partners, and global health authorities. We are very pleased to have identified a lead vaccine candidate from the constructs we have been working on since January. We are moving on an accelerated timeline toward Phase 1 human clinical trials at the latest by September 2020 and, supported by the global production capability that we are scaling up in parallel to this testing, we expect a vaccine could be ready for emergency use in early 2021.”