A coronavirus vaccine from a unit of Johnson & Johnson will move into the third phase of clinical trials in the UK on Monday, testing the safety and effectiveness of the shot.
The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies test round will include 6,000 volunteers and will take place in 17 locations, according to a statement. The vaccine is the third candidate to be tested in the UK alongside the UK one of one AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford and another from Novavax Inc., it said.
Progress in developing vaccines for COVID-19 has accelerated this month Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE say their shot prevented more than 90% of symptomatic infections in one study. Still, obstacles remain for production and development before vaccines could reach widespread use.
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Recent data suggests that "we could be on the verge of the first major breakthrough since the pandemic began," said UK Economy Secretary Alok Sharma. "While we are optimistic about the progress made, there are no guarantees and it is possible that there will not be a single vaccine."
If New Jersey's Janssen vaccine proves safe and effective, 30 million doses could be available in the UK by mid-2021, according to the publication. The government vaccine task force is partially funding the effort.
The government also announced that it would open two new “megalabs” early next year, which together will increase daily testing capacity by 600,000. The labs are said to be used for COVID-19 as well as testing for other critical diseases such as cancer.
J&J was further back other drug companies in the vaccine hunt while planning to increase spending to expand a development deal with the US government and catch up with rivals. The company canceled a vaccination attempt in October after a participant fell ill.
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