Johnson & Johnson’s potential coronavirus vaccine prevented severe illness in a small group of Syrian golden hamsters, the company announced Thursday.J&J researchers vaccinated hamsters with a single dose and then exposed the rodents to the virus four weeks later, the company said. J&J said the vaccine elicited neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe are necessary to build immunity to the virus, in hamsters who got the vaccine. Vaccinated hamsters also appeared to lose less weight than unvaccinated hamsters and didn’t experience severe clinical disease, such as pneumonia, or mortality. The results were published Thursday in the medical journal Nature Medicine.
“This pre-clinical study further validates our confidence in our SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate,” J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said in a press release. “With our Phase 3 trials planned to start this month, we remain committed to expanding our manufacturing and distribution capabilities to enable global access to our SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate should it prove to be safe and effective in humans.”
Widespread COVID-19 Vaccinations Not Expected Until Mid-2021, WHO Says
The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said.
Russia granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine in August after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy.U.S. public health officials and Pfizer Inc said on Thursday a vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October. That would be just ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3 in which the pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term.“We are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.