Pharmacist Michael Witte, left, gives Neal Browning, right, a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. Browning is the second patient to receive the shot in the study.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
The world’s largest healthcare company plans to start testing its coronavirus vaccine candidate in humans in July.
Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it will move up the timeline by about two months to start clinical trials. Previously, the pharma giant was aiming to enter the clinic in September.
The study will start in the second half of July and enroll 1,045 healthy volunteers in the US and Belgium.
If the vaccine works, J&J has already pledged to distribute it at a nonprofit rate to help end the pandemic.
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Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it plans to start human testing of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in July.
Previously, J&J had said the goal was to enter human trials in September. J&J is the world’s largest healthcare company with a market value of $390 billion. The company has previously pledged to distribute its vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.
Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, said in a news release Wednesday that the accelerated pace stemmed from “the strength” of preclinical data and conversations with regulators.
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The study will start in the second half of July and enroll 1,045 healthy volunteers in the US and Belgium. The initial study will have a placebo arm to compare results against. Researchers will look to see how safe and tolerable the vaccine is when injected in humans, and if it causes an immune response.
It won’t be the only trial for J&J’s vaccine. The company said it is talking with the US National Institutes of Health to start a larger, late-stage study “ahead of its original schedule.” J&J executives have previously said they expect the vaccine to be ready by early 2021 for emergency use.
J&J’s program is one of more than 125 ongoing vaccine research programs. Ten are now in human testing, and more than 25 are expected to enter the clinic by year’s end.
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