A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is expected to move to late-stage trial in September. In an announcement last week, the company said the phase three study will enroll 60,000 candidates aged 18 and above in around 180 locations in the U.S and abroad.
Details released by the company indicate that the study participants will be selected randomly and dosed with the potential vaccine or a placebo. The study will seek to determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. After being dosed, participants will be watched by scientists for two years.
“Our Phase 3 program is intended to be as robust as possible, could include up to 60,000 participants and will be conducted in places with high incidence rates,” J&J spokesman Jake Sargent said in a statement.
The hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine
There are several pharmaceutical companies involved in a race to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The virus has so far infected over 22.4 million and claimed around 788,500 lives around the world. Currently more than 160 potential vaccines are under development, with 30 already undergoing clinical trials.
J&J’s efforts to develop a vaccine were boosted by a $456 million funding support from the U.S government as part of its program fast to track the discovery and production of the vaccine to end the pandemic. Infectious disease experts and public health officials have indicated that more than one drug may be needed to fight the virus.
This will be the largest coronavirus trial being undertaken yet. Other drugmakers like Pfizer and Moderna have also started late-stage trials of their potential vaccines. Both companies said they will enroll 30,000 candidates.
J&J announced that it is applying the same technologies used to develop its Ebola drug, which was used in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2019. The technology involves combining genetic materials from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus which causes common cold in human beings.
The U.S government has signed an agreement with J&J to supply 100 million doses of its potential vaccine. The deal is valued at $1 billion. In addition, the U.S government will be able to order an additional 200 million doses under the deal.