J&J plans human testing of coronavirus vaccine by Sept

J&J says it has $1bn deal with the US government to create factory capacity for more than 1 billion doses of vaccine.

New York
A person waves a United States flag as The USNS Comfort passes under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge as it enters New York Harbor, in NY, US, where the government is working with Johnson&Johnson to make a COVID-19 vaccine available in early 2021 [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Johnson & Johnson said on Monday it made a $1bn deal with the United States government to create enough manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine it is testing to fight the new coronavirus that has killed more than 34,000 people around the world. 

Johnson and Johnson said it had selected its own lead vaccine candidate and would start human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September, with an eye on having it ready for emergency use in early 2021, the drugmaker said on Monday.

J&J also committed more than $1bn of investment along with US agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to co-fund vaccine research, expanding a previous collaboration.

The new coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, has infected people in most countries around the world. The US now has the most cases globally and many of them are in New York, where hospitals are reporting a scarcity of resources to treat the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes.

A patient was dosed with Moderna Inc’s vaccine in an early-stage trial earlier this month, making it the frontrunner in the race to develop a viable vaccine.

J&J said in January it had begun working on a possible vaccine for the coronavirus, using the same technologies used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine.

President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that social curbs ordering businesses to shutter and people to stay home and limit travel will be extended until April 30. In recent days, Trump has called on private sector partners from General Motors to United Parcel Service to help in the fight against coronavirus. 

Billions of people around the globe are currently on lockdown or being asked to stay at home. In India, 1.3 billion people last week were ordered to stay home for 21-days. Some economists and health officials have warned that the hit of coronavirus will be particularly devastating on poor and developing countries, where hospitals are underresourced and vaccines out of reach. 

Source: Reuters