This week Johnson & Johnson announced the beginning of Phase 3 trials of their SARS-Cov-2 vaccine, becoming the fourth company as part of “Operation Warp Speed” to enter this advanced stage of testing With plans to enroll up to 60,000 subjects, it would be the largest vaccine trial and officials expect to find out the results by the end of this year.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine model relies on a reliable technology using a genetically altered adenovirus to carry a gene from the coronavirus into human host cells. These cells then produce the coronavirus protein, but not the entire virus. The viral proteins then stimulate the host immune system to produce protective antibodies that can fight off future infections from the COVID-19 virus.
Although many of its competitors have a several month head start on their Phase 3 trials, if successful, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has several potential advantages. First, it’s vaccine would require just one shot, as many others require two shots spaced one month apart. Next, unlike other vaccine candidates it does not require deep frozen storage which could complicate the logistics of delivery to the end user. And finally, it is based on an established technology used in other successful vaccines with a long safety record, as compared to the novel approaches of mRNA or genetic-based vaccine candidates from Moderna or Pfizer.
As was done for other leading vaccine manufacturers, the U.S government has already approved $1.5 billion to assist Johnson & Johnson to begin producing tens of millions of doses while awaiting completion of their Phase 3 trials If successful, Johnson & Johnson hope to distribute up to 100 million doses immediately if the vaccine is approved.
Please click here to read the Johnson & Johnson press release.