WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Johnson & Johnson started its human tests for the COVID-19 vaccine after their trial on monkeys showed potential defense against the infection.
- The U.S government has supported J&J in its research, allotting $456 million to accelerate the vaccine’s development.
- Subjected to test results, J&J is planning to start with phase 3 of the trial using a single shot by September.
On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) launched in the U.S. its first human trials for its coronavirus vaccine following the release of the results of research conducted in monkeys that indicated its top serum contender made a reliable defense in one dose.
Upon exposure to the virus, all six animals who were administered with vaccines were safe from lung infections. Five out of six were shielded from the disease based on the measurement of the present virus in nasal swabs, as reported in the study posted in the journal, Nature.
Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer J&J’s, told Reuters that the team is confident that they can test a single vaccine in this pandemic and study if the same protection level applies to humans.
Currently, the U.S. government supports J&J’s vaccine development initiative with a $456 million funding to speed up the creation of a vaccine to end the outbreak. Coronavirus has already infected millions of people, and the death toll has already reached over 660,000 worldwide.
Stoffels explained that earlier tests of similar vaccines found that the next dose considerably increases the defense. However, in cases of a pandemic, a single vaccine is already advantageous, circumventing several logistical concerns of convincing people to return for their next dose.
Johnson & Johnson also raised the question to one or two doses in its initial trial phase, which started the week in the country.
Depending on the trial outcomes, J&J is looking at launching a massive phase 3 trials with a single shot procedure in the middle of September. Around the same period, the company will kick-off a matching phase 3 study trials a double shot program of vaccine, as explained by Stoffels.
The vaccine developed by J&J is a common cold virus called adnovirus type 26 or Ad26 to transport COVID-19 proteins into cells in the organs, causing the body to release an immune defense against the infection.
In the research with monkies, J&J experts and Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tested seven separate possible vaccines over 32 animals. They matched the results to 20 experimental animals administered with placebo doses.
After six weeks, all of the animals were introduced to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. All animals, 20 of whom received the sample, got high levels of infection in their lungs and nasal swabs.
Dr. Dan Barouch, a vaccine expert and scholar at Beth Isreal Deaconness, who spearheaded the research in partnership with J&J, said that even one shot of immunization with the Ad26 vaccine can help to counteract antibody reactions of test monkeys against coronavirus.