Johnson & Johnson is getting close to a coronavirus vaccine—and it has advantages over other candidates

johnson & johnson vaccine coronavirus
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Add another major company to the race for finding a coronavirus vaccine. On Sept. 23, the New York Times noted that a potential Johnson & Johnson vaccine has entered the final phase of clinical trials and that it plans to enroll 60,000 people into its program to see if its vaccine works and is safe.

Other companies like AstraZeneca (which recently had to temporarily halt its vaccine trials) and Pfizer (which could release a vaccine by the end of October) are a few months ahead of Johnson & Johnson in the coronavirus vaccine race, but the latter company could have some advantages. Instead of two doses of a vaccine, like the other candidates, the Johnson & Johnson offering would require just one shot. It also wouldn’t need to be stored in subzero temperatures, which is good news considering the U.S. dry ice shortage.

“I mean, just think about yourself—how much easier would it be for you to go to your local doctor or your local drugstore and be once and done?” Dr. Daniel Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told the Times.

Johnson & Johnson said it hopes to determine the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine by the end of 2020. A vaccine could then be released early in 2021.

In August, the Department of Health and Human Services said it would pay $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson for 100 million doses of the vaccine with the option to order another 200 million more.

As Axios noted, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is the fourth version to enter Phase 3 clinical trials. The fact there are so many potential candidates for a vaccine six months into the COVID-19 pandemic is good news to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response team.

“This is an unprecedented feat for the scientific community made possible by decades of progress in vaccine technology and a coordinated, strategic approach across government, industry, and academia,” Fauci said, via CNBC. “It is likely that multiple COVID-19 vaccine regimens will be required to meet the global need.”

On Oct. 12, STAT News reported that the Phase 3 trial had been put on pause because of an “unexplained illness” in one of the patients. On Sept. 8, another potential vaccine, from AstraZeneca, had to be temporarily halted after a patient developed an inflammatory syndrome.

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Sources: New York Times, CNBC, Axios

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