Johnson & Johnson has identified the lead candidate for a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and plans to move ahead with human trials.
As NBC reports, the company’s CEO and chairman Alex Gorsky spoke with Savannah Guthrie on Today about the progress being made toward a vaccine.
“Today at Johnson & Johnson we’re really pleased to be able to announce that we have a vaccine candidate that based upon the testing that we’ve done — and we’ve been doing a lot in this area, in areas like SARS and Ebola — that we have a candidate that has a high degree of being successful against the COVID virus,” he said.
He added that the company has the infrastructure necessary to manufacture and distribute the vaccination once it is ready.
He also explained that the manufacturer is working with the U.S. government to create the vaccine and invest in technology to address the pandemic.
“We’re going to be investing more than a billion dollars,” he announced.
The company also plans to make the vaccine, once available, affordable for the people who need it.
“In fact, we’re going to make sure we’re offering this at not-for-profit basis here in the United States and around the globe,” he said.
When Guthrie asked how long the timeline is for getting the vaccine to the public, he said that they hope to have it available on an emergency basis in about a year.
“We’ve got all hands on deck — this is like a moon shot at Johnson & Johnson,” he said, adding that they hope to have initial testing wrapped up in five to seven months.
The company plans to start human testing in September, and they want to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective before it goes live.
The vaccine should hopefully be available by early next year, he said, and a billion vaccines ready by the end of next year.
Guthrie then asked about Johnson & Johnson’s decision to ramp up their distribution abilities even though they didn’t have a product ready yet. In response to the comment that the company was working to create a product that might not even be effective, he stated that it is imperative to rush the development in order to address the global crisis.
The company is also working on creating other necessary products, like hand sanitizer, to fight the disease.
Multiple other companies are also in the testing phases with a vaccine. Kaiser Permanente in Washington gave the first trial dose of a potential vaccine to a patient several weeks ago.