New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson said Monday it selected a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020.
J&J said it expects to initiate human clinical studies for the candidate by September 2020 at the latest, and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021—a substantially accelerated timeframe in comparison to typical vaccine development process.
The company also announced a significant expansion of an existing partnership between J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the rapid scaling of the company’s manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing a global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.
Through a new partnership, BARDA, which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Johnson & Johnson have committed more than $1 billion of investment to co-fund vaccine research, development and clinical testing.
Johnson & Johnson will use its validated vaccine platform and is allocating resources – including personnel and infrastructure worldwide –, as needed to focus on these efforts. Separately, BARDA and J&J have provided additional funding that will enable expansion of their ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatments against COVID-19.
As part of its commitment, Johnson & Johnson is also expanding the company’s global manufacturing capacity, including through the establishment of new U.S. vaccine manufacturing capabilities and scaling up capacity in other countries.
The additional capacity will assist the rapid production, and enable the supply of more than one billion doses worldwide, of a vaccine.
The company plans to begin production at risk imminently and says it is committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.
“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,” said J&J Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky. “As the world’s largest health care company, we feel a deep responsibility to improve the health of people around the world every day.”