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New York, Apr 1 (Canadian-Media): A commitment of $456 million has been made by the U.S. government, through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus with Johnson & Johnson (J&J)'s commitment to match roughly an equal amount by its Janssen division effort in development of the vaccine, media reports said.
Johnson & Johnson. Image credit: Twitter
Built around an engineered version of adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Janssen’s vaccine, which normally causes common colds has been disabled to replicate.
Same Ad26 platform has been tested against Ebola, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus, and Zika. J&J last year had $42 billion in pharmaceutical sales.
Company scientists stich into this Ad26 “vector” a gene for the surface protein from the new coronavirus spreading around the world.
Although skepticism about its advantage over pharmaceutical companies was raised by Florian Krammer, a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who has co-authored a status report in Immunity about the COVID-19 vaccine, Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer and a veteran HIV drug developer said the effort will be nonprofit and the vaccine will be accessible to all through some global mechanism still to be determined.
J&J also said that staffed by 50,000 people, it can make 300 million vaccines, in a 2000-liter vessel, on an annual basis and that testing on animals is being done with criteria to neutralizing antibodies.
With 4000 people in clinical research all over the world, J&J hopes to launch its large phase II study in six weeks and by early winter the vaccine could ready for that large trial at Northern Hemisphere in the temperate regions.