Paris/New York: Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine protected a group of macaques with a single shot in an early study, prompting the U.S. drugmaker to start trials in humans this month.
All of the animals that were exposed to the pandemic-causing pathogen six weeks after the injection were immune except one, who showed low levels of the virus, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature. The health-care behemoth kick-started human trials on July 22 in Belgium and in the U.S. earlier this week.
The data “show our SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate generated a strong antibody response and provided protection with a single dose,” Paul Stoffels, the drugmaker’s chief scientific officer, said in the statement. “The findings give us confidence as we progress our vaccine development and upscale manufacturing.”
J&J aims to embark on the last phase of tests in September, compressing the traditional timeline as it races against others such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc and AstraZeneca Plc for a shot to end the pandemic. Although others have been faster in development, with Astra having already administered its experimental vaccine to almost 10,000 people in the U.K. alone, eliciting protection with a single dose could prove to be an advantage in the logistical challenge of rolling out massive vaccination programs around the globe.
J&J rose 1.7% in trading before U.S. exchanges opened.
The company, which received a $456 million award from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has already entered discussions with the U.S., the European Union, and governments around the world about supplying its vaccine should it prove successful in the clinic. The company has not yet determined a price for its shot, though top executives suggest it will be offered on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker’s technology is based on the human adenovirus, a type of common cold virus. It’s an approach that is perhaps best known for its use in an Ebola vaccine. – Bloomberg
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