Advertisement

Johnson & Johnson IDs vaccine candidate, 2 backups for coronavirus

By
Don Jacobson
The pharmaceutical company said Monday it has identified a lead candidate and two backups. File Photo by Justin Lane/EPA-EFE
The pharmaceutical company said Monday it has identified a lead candidate and two backups. File Photo by Justin Lane/EPA-EFE

March 30 (UPI) -- Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson said Monday it has identified a lead candidate for development of a coronavirus vaccine and it could become available within a year.

The company, which made the announcement Monday, said human testing of the experimental vaccine will begin by September at the latest -- a "substantially accelerated time frame" in comparison to the typical vaccine development process.

Advertisement

As part of a $1 billion crash program funded by the company and the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Johnson & Johnson said it will also scale-up manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing more than 1 billion doses.

The company said it also has identified two backup candidates from its work toward developing a vaccine, which began in January.

RELATED Korean company starts animal trial of coronavirus vaccine

"The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible," said company Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky.

Johnson & Johnson is expects the vaccine could receive emergency-use authorization from the FDA in early 2021. Emergency-use authorization is an expedited means by which the FDA approves new drugs, or new uses for existing drugs, during a health emergency.

Advertisement

Government health researchers have supplied additional funding to expand a cooperative effort to identify potential anti-viral treatments against the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.

RELATED Blood from COVID-19 survivors might protect others

Also Monday, two major U.S. health insurers -- Humana and Cigna -- announced they will waive co-payments for all treatment costs related to the disease.

Humana previously said it would cover related out-of-pocket costs for testing, but will also waive co-payments involving treatment. The policy includes inpatient hospital admissions, fully insured commercial members, Medicare Supplement and Medicaid.

Cigna also said it's waiving customer cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment through May 31.

RELATED Study: Vaccine myths widespread on Facebook, Google, YouTube

"Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread," said President and CEO David Cordani. "While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs."

Pandemic empties streets, public spaces around the world

Playground equipment is closed off to children to help stop the spread of COVID-19 at a park in Takoma Park, Md., on April 15. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines