Johnson & Johnson vows to make 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine by 2021 after landing $450 million US government contract – but the firm hasn’t even started testing it on people
- The Trump Administration signed a contract with Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical branch
- J&J will get $450 million from the government and, combined with its own funding, $1 billion will go to the vaccine development
- Already, Moderna has begun trials for its COVI-19 vaccine, but Johnson & Johnson said its own human trials will start by September
- It anticipates making one billion doses of the experimental vaccine by ‘early 2021,’ despite the fact it’s only just announced a lead candidate vaccine
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The US government has contracted Johnson & Johnson to develop a vaccine for coronavirus to the tune of $456 million.
It’s the largest vaccine contract to-date, according to Forbes.
As part of the same contract, J&J’s pharmaceutical branch, Janssen, the US is also paying for the company to work on a ‘new antiviral’ to treat the infection sweeping the globe.
Unlike a number of other pharmaceutical companies, J&J has not begun clinical trials for either the vaccine nor the antiviral, but human trials are expected to begin by September, now that the firm has the Trump administration’s backing.
Still, it’s unlikely even Johnson & Johnson’s fast-tracked vaccine will be ready until early on in 2021.
Johnson & Johnson says that it will begin human trials of a coronavirus vaccine in September and believes it can make a one billion doses by early 2021
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for the virus sweeping the globe, though Moderna began the first US human trial of a vaccine earlier this month (file)
Johnson & Johnson has partnered with the Biomedical and Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to make the drug.
BARDA is an arm of the US HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), which is spear-heading the efforts to create drugs and vaccines for coronavirus, which has sickened more than 140,000 Americans.
Johnson & Johnson is matching the government’s investment in its research and development efforts (and then some), bringing the total budget for its COVID-19 projects to more than $1 billion.
The company is ramping up its production capacity of its 125 global facilities with the aim of making one billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
Although it hasn’t begun clinical tests, Johnson & Johnson began researching a coronavirus vaccine in January.
On Monday, the pharmaceutical giant announced that one of its vaccine candidates had emerged as the most promising and it would be moving ahead with further studies of it.
US coronavirus cases have soared past 142,000 and vaccines are unlikely to be ready this calendar year
Johnson & Johnson received $450 million form the Trump administration toward its treatment and vaccine development projects
But there’s still a ways to go before the first person will receive a dose of the vaccine.
The company has previously worked on vaccines for Ebola, Zika and HIV.
Scientists there believe they can leverage the same platform and system they used to develop vaccines for those diseases in order to speed their development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The first human trial for a coronavirus vaccine in the US began on March 17.
Healthy people in Seattle are receiving doses of the experimental vaccine made by Moderna to see if it is safe.
Experts have warned that some level of social distancing or other movement restrictions may be necessary to keep coronavirus from overwhelming the health care system until a vaccine is available.
Vaccine development can take years, and even with the pressing need for a shot to prevent coronavirus, Dr Anthony Fauci of the White House coronavirus task force has warned that making one is likely to take 18 months.
Meanwhile, cases continue to climb, with more than 140,000 Americans sick with COVID-19 and more than 2,500 dead.
President Trump has placed his hope in the malaria drug hydroxycholoroquine, which is now being tested in the US.
The first patients were dosed with the drug on Tuesday in New York, the hardest hit state in the US.