Companies across the globe are racing to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have brought their human trials forward by two months in the rush to find the vaccine and contain the spread of coronavirus.

J&J began developing their vaccine in January, using the same technologies they used to make their experimental Ebola vaccine rolled out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2019.

They had originally planned to begin human trials for their potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in September, but will now start in the second half of July. According to J&J Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels, their preclinical data is strong enough to push the trials forward.

“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,” he said in a press statement.

The randomised, placebo-controlled phase 1/2A study will evaluate the safety of the vaccine, as well as how participants respond to it and their resulting immune response. The human trials will involve 1045 healthy adults aged 18 to 55 years, as well as adults aged 65 years and older. The study will take place in the U.S. and Belgium.

The Company is also in discussions with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with the objective to start the Phase 3 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trial ahead of schedule, depending on the outcome of the Phase 1 studies and approval of regulators.

The Company will continue to increase manufacturing capacity and is in active discussions with global partners to ensure worldwide access. If their vaccine is effective, they aim to supply over 1-billion doses globally.

At least 124 COVID-19 vaccines are currently under development, of which an estimated 10 are in clinical trials.

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