Johnson & Johnson is known for its consumer products but now the company is also playing an important role on the front lines in the battle against coronavirus. J&J has joined forces with Abbott Laboratories to develop a vaccine to thwart the virus. It is hoped the vaccine will be available in early 2021 at the latest. The two corporate giants are now working in tandem with the United States government to invest a whopping $1 billion in the vaccine’s development. If all goes as planned, human testing of the vaccine will commence in September.
A Deeper Look at Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine and Rapid Testing
Abbott Laboratories representatives stated the company is launching a rapid test for COVID-19 that will take as few as five minutes to reveal whether an individual has the virus or is virus-free. The rapid test will be conducted on a portable device smaller than a convection oven. The news of Abbott’s rapid testing and J&J’s potential vaccine sent both companies’ stock prices higher.
J&J was the first power player in the pharmaceutical industry to begin working on a vaccine for coronavirus. The company began vaccine development in January. In the meantime, several more pharmaceutical businesses such as Pfizer, GSK and Sanofi have joined the competition. However, none of these companies have tested their vaccines on people.
An Eye on the Future
J&J employees are hard at work developing the forementioned vaccine with the overarching goal of bringing it to the masses in the early part of 2021. The vaccine would be used in emergency use authorization by way of an expedited waiver from a United States regulator. However, there is a chance J&J’s vaccine will not reach the market as quickly as that in development by Boston-headquartered biotech firm Moderna. Though Moderna’s potential vaccine was ready for launch about a month ago, it received minimal media hype. In fact, Moderna’s candidate began human testing in March, half a year earlier than the timetable for J&J’s vaccine.
Moderna’s scientists developed a potential vaccine in a mere 42 days with a unique platform that allows for rapid adaption to viruses’ nuanced genetic sequences. However, the race has not yet been won. The chief executive and chairman of J&J, Alex Gorsky, states the vaccine candidate was developed on the foundation of 10+ years of research along with a financial investment in excess of several billions of dollars.
Though J&J is lagging behind Moderna in terms of human testing, J&J is better equipped to scale manufacturing upward to guarantee the vaccine is available to the masses. The competition is not to beat another pharmaceutical industry competitor such as Moderna to the “finish line” but to beat the virus itself. This is evidenced by the fact that J&J’s vaccine will not be sold for profit amidst the pandemic. The company is spending massive sums of money in the quest to quickly scale its manufacturing capabilities upward to generate a billion doses of the potential vaccine by 2021’s end.
J&J’s Contract With the United States Government
Our federal government inked a $450 million vaccine contract with J&J. The deal is with J&J’s pharmaceutical wing, Janssen. The near half-billion dollar deal is the largest amount ever spent on a vaccine in our country’s history. This is quite the sizable investment of tax dollars considering the fact that J&J has not yet launched clinical trials. The deal was officially signed on March 27. The contract comes on the heels of another order with J&J’s Janssen arm for $150 inked on March 20 to develop an antiviral to combat COVID-19. J&J has promised to quickly expand its worldwide manufacturing capacity to hasten vaccine production upon approval.