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J&J, US govt plan 1 billion doses of virus vaccine

A researcher works in a lab at the Duke-NUS Medical School, which is developing a way to track genetic changes that speed testing of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in Singapore

Johnson & Johnson said on Monday it made a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to create enough manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine it is testing to fight the new coronavirus that has killed more than 34,000 people around the world.

Johnson and Johnson said that it had selected its own lead vaccine candidate and would start human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September, with an eye on having it ready for emergency use in early 2021, the drugmaker said on Monday.

J&J said that the first batches of a vaccine could be available under an emergency use authorization in early 2021, far quicker than the typical 18 month period that it takes for vaccines to be tested, approved and then manufactured.

J&J also committed more than $1 billion of investment along with U.S. agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to co-fund vaccine research, expanding a previous collaboration.

The new coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, has infected people in most countries around the world. The United States now has the most cases globally and many of them are in New York, where hospitals are reporting a scarcity of resources to treat the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes.

A patient was dosed with Moderna Inc’s vaccine in an early-stage trial earlier this month, making it the front-runner in the race to develop a viable vaccine.

J&J said in January it had begun working on a possible vaccine for the coronavirus, using the same technologies used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine.



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