Clinical trials to begin on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this fall

This week, high-ranking executives from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson revealed that a potential COVID-19 vaccine is set to begin clinical trials in the fall.

Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels made the remarks in a conference call on Tuesday that was covered by The Motley Fool.

Potential game-changer

“We are on track to start Phase 1 clinical trials in early September in the U.S. and Europe with clinical data on safety and immunogenicity expected to be available by the end of the year,” Stoffels said.

“This could allow vaccine availability for emergency use authorization as early as early 2021,” he continued. “We are confident in this vaccine candidate, because we have now seen good data in animal models.”

“While we are moving with extreme speed, we are absolutely committed to making sure that our vaccine follows all guidelines with regard to good manufacturing practices and quality controls,” Stoffels added.

Ability to produce “north of 1 billion” vaccines

Stoffels went on to explain how Johnson & Johnson would be ramping up its production capacity in order to meet the anticipated demand.

“Production capacity would be ready to grow at 600 million to 900 million in the first quarter [of 2021], going up to a 1 billion in the course of the year, north of 1 billion by the end of the year,” he noted, adding that this growth would be achieved by having “four manufacturing sites going on one by one.”

The successful development of a COVID-19 vaccine would have massive implications for public health around the world, as well as for the financial health of Johnson & Johnson — something that CNBC pundit Jim Cramer touched on during an episode of his program “Mad Money.”

“I came away convinced that they have something compelling up their sleeves,” Cramer said of the Johnson & Johnson call. “Something that will make you wish you owned a travel and leisure stock.”

“This virus is not invincible, people, and when we do beat it, you’ll wish you owned some stocks, especially the ones that are currently toxic to your portfolio.”

CNBC reported on Tuesday that there are some 70 potential coronavirus vaccines under development along with a number of possible treatments.

Many of these treatments involve the use of existing medications, some of which are currently being used to fight malaria or leukemia.

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