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Johnson & Johnson to begin human testing of coronavirus vaccine by Sept; stock rises 8%

The first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, the company said.

March 31, 2020 / 09:35 AM IST

Johnson & Johnson share price surged 8 percent on March 30 after the US-based company said that it will begin human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September.

The first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, the company said.

The healthcare major has joined hands with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, to co-fund vaccine research. It has committed $1 billion for it.

According to the company, clinical data of phase 1 of the candidate vaccine is expected before the end of the year. And if all goes well, J&J  said it could be available for emergency use in early 2021.

J&J said it is also increasing its manufacturing capacity with a new site in the US and additions to existing sites in other countries to produce and distribute the potential vaccine quickly.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The company is planning to produce over 1 billion doses of the said vaccine.

"We have very good early indicators that not only can we depend on this to be a safe vaccine base but also one that will ultimately be effective based on all the early testing and modelling we’ve been doing,” Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said in a televised interview with CNBC.

“This is a bit of a moonshot for J&J going forward, but it’s one we feel is very, very important for use to be doing at this period in time,” he added.

Major pharma companies are scurrying to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 that has killed over 34,000 worldwide. However, according to industry specialists and experts, it will take at least one year to develop a viable vaccine.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Mar 31, 2020 09:35 am
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