VACCINE FOR COVID-19 MAY BE AVAILABLE SOONER THAN EXPECTED
Johnson & Johnson said Monday it could have a Covid-19 vaccine available for emergency use early next year and it would begin manufacturing the vaccine immediately.
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Though not a major vaccine maker, Johnson & Johnson (ticker: JNJ) was among the first companies to announce a Covid-19 vaccine development program back in January. Now, the company said its program has developed a candidate vaccine and two backup candidates. It plans to begin testing the vaccine in humans in September.
Johnson & Johnson said it planned to make the vaccine available “on a not-for-profit basis.” Still, shares of the company jumped nearly 8% in trading Monday afternoon as the S&P 500 rose 2.3%. Johnson & Johnson is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world.
“The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a Covid-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.
In its statement, Johnson & Johnson said it was increasing manufacturing capacity and setting up new vaccine manufacturing capabilities inside the U.S. It said it aimed to manufacture a billion doses and that it had already begun making the vaccine so it could be ready if it is proven to work.
The company also announced a collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a government agency that funds the development of certain categories of drugs. The company said Johnson & Johnson and the biomedical authority had jointly committed to spending $1 billion on vaccine research, and a separate funding partnership to find antivirals to treat Covid-19.
A widely available, safe, effective vaccine for Covid-19 would dramatically transform how health authorities deal with the virus. It is unclear how widely available the prospective Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be under an emergency-use authorization. Last week, the biotech firm Moderna (MRNA), which is also developing a Covid-19 vaccine, said it was possible a vaccine could be made available for health workers by this fall, though the company didn’t offer further details on the assertion.
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