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Vials with a sticker reading coronavirus vaccine and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo. (REUTERS)
Vials with a sticker reading coronavirus vaccine and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo. (REUTERS)

J&J expects data for US authorisation of coronavirus vaccine by February

  • 'By the end of the year or around the end of the year, we should have 60,000 people in the study,' J&J's chief scientific officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said

For the late-stage trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's chief scientist said the company is recruiting more than 1,000 people per day. The drug firm also expects to have all the data needed to seek US authorisation by February next year or earlier.

"By the end of the year or around the end of the year, we should have 60,000 people in the study," news agency Reuters quoted J&J's chief scientific officer Dr. Paul Stoffels.

"And efficacy endpoint should be there in the first few weeks or months, January or February, of the new year," Stoffels added.

Phase III trial

The Phase III trial of the single-dose vaccine started in late September. The firm paused the trial in October because of a serious medical event in one participant and resumed after getting the green light from an independent safety panel.

J&J must provide safety data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for at least one-half of trial participants for a duration of two months after they receive the vaccine. "So that will bring us around the year end or early next year for having all the data," he added.

J&J lags some of its rivals in the global race to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the virus that has killed over 1.3 million people worldwide and roiled the global economy.

Rival Moderna on its experimental vaccine

Rival Moderna on Monday said its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, following similar results from Pfizer last week.

Both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines use a new technology known as messenger RNA, or mRNA. By contrast, J&J's vaccine uses a common cold virus known as adenovirus type 26 to introduce coronavirus proteins into cells in the body and trigger the body's immune system.

J&J's candidate is a single-dose vaccine, whereas the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and another under development by AstraZeneca all require two shots separated by several weeks.

"In a pandemic a single shot is definitely important globally," Stoffels said. "(A two-shot vaccine) is a very significant operational challenge. More so in healthcare systems which are less well organized."

Single-shot vaccines will likely benefit in particular remote areas, Stoffels said.

Meanwhile, the overall number of global cases of Covid-19 has topped 55.7 million, while the deaths have surged to over 1.3 million.

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