Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is working on a vaccine with a goal of 1 billion tests in 2021. According to Dr. Paul Stoffels, the Chief Scientific Officer at J&J, the company “is increasing its manufacturing and preparing for clinical trials in September.” The clinical trials should provide sufficient data to facilitate development of the vaccines in 2021.
On 30 March 2020, JNJ announced the release of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In the press release, the company outlined the expectations to start clinical trials in September 2020 at the latest. The work towards the vaccine is a collaborative effort between JNJ and BARDA. The company revealed that plans were underway to expand the vaccine manufacturing capabilities in the United States. As of April 2020, the company was targeting to produce between 600 million and 900 million doses of vaccine in 12 months.
Will the vaccine defeat the virus?
Appearing on the ABC’s “This Week,” Dr. Stoffels noted the challenges of fighting COVID-19. According to Dr. Stoffels, COVID-19 is spreading fast in the US and abroad. Coupled with the fact that scientists are still learning more about the virus, COVID-19 could be here for a long time. Dr. Stoffels was reacting to the remarks by President Donald Trump, who said the pandemic would pass “with or without a vaccine.”
Medical experts are in agreement with Dr. Stoffels that COVID-19 might stay with us for longer. A likely scenario is that the virus will mutate into a stubborn and permanent medical issue for years. If it so happens, none of the vaccines in development today or later will defeat COVID-19. Instead, we may succeed to slow the spread of the virus by establishing herd immunity.
A race against time
JNJ is not the only entity working towards a vaccine for COVID-19. On 24 April 2020, Oxford University rolled out the first human trials for a coronavirus vaccine. At the time, there were seven vaccine candidate that were in clinical trial phase. The Oxford University trial involved 1,112 participants. Even as scientists ramp up the effort towards coronavirus vaccine, the death toll is rising. Johns Hopkins University figures show that 286,615 people worldwide have so far succumbed while the infection tops 4 million.