Risk & Compliance

Johnson & Johnson to Start COVID-19 Vaccine Trials in July

The healthcare giant moved up the coronavirus human clinical trials timeline by about two months.

Johnson & Johnson will begin the human clinical trials of its novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in July, the company announced Wednesday.

The human trials of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were expected to begin in September.

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The pharmaceutical company said 1,045 volunteers, in the age groups of 18 to 55 and above 65, will participate in the phase 1/2 clinical trials, which will evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate.

“Based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development of our investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant,” Johnson & Johnson chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels said.

The New Jersey-based company’s vaccine is one of the five candidates considered by President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” as most likely to get regulatory approval, the New York Times reported.

Other lead vaccine candidate developers include Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Merck.

Johnson & Johnson said it is in discussion with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to start the third phase of its clinical trials ahead of schedule as well, if phase one results are favorable, and it gets necessary regulatory approval.

The company said it is also increasing its manufacturing capacity and talking with partners globally “to ensure worldwide access” once and if the vaccine is approved for preventative use against the coronavirus.

Johnson and Johnson’s shares closed nearly 1.3% higher at $147.80 on Wednesday. The shares were unchanged in the after-hours session.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

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