Johnson & Johnson Covid Vaccine: Analysts are cautiously optimistic

Illustration of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

Given Ruvic | Reuters

LONDON – Health systems around the world are struggling to cope with the rising number of Covid-19 infections as they race against the clock to vaccinate the vulnerable.

The three vaccines currently approved for use in large Western economies all require two separate vaccinations. Given the limited supply, governments are considering controversial tactics such as increasing the time between doses in order to get at least one dose to as many people as possible.

A one-shot vaccine could vastly improve our ability to fight the virus – and we may have one soon.

J & J’s late trial

Johnson & Johnson is expected to deliver preliminary late-stage study results for its single-dose Covid vaccine candidate by the end of January. If the push turns out to be safe and effective, the company will aim to have at least 1 billion doses by the end of the year.

The J&J vaccine was developed by the company’s Belgian unit, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and is based on adenovirus viral vector technology, the same approach used to make the Oxford-AstraZeneca University vaccine. This type of shot is easier to scale than those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are based on messenger RNA technology.

Shore Capital health analyst Adam Barker said in an email to CNBC last week, “The J&J vaccine is more like the AstraZeneca vaccine, but uses only one dose. So we know this approach works (viral vector) and we know the goal will work. But we have to see what a dose does. “

The Morgan Stanley health team said in a research report released last week that J & J’s vaccine “offers unique elements and efficacy that could be positive compared to AstraZeneca, increasing confidence in pandemic response and recovery Strengthens the market “.

The investment bank is confident in the vaccine’s safety profile, given early trial data, “along with the previous success and safety profile demonstrated in its Ebola vaccine and research use in HIV, RSV and Zika”.

A report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, founded by the former UK Prime Minister, calls the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs “the two workhorse vaccines” because they should be widely available and easier to administer than those mRNA shots.

With J & J’s technology, the vaccine is estimated to be stable for at least three months at normal refrigeration temperatures, so no new infrastructure is required for transportation.

Expected timeline

On December 17th, J & J completed the registration of its phase 3 clinical trial with 45,000 participants for its single-dose vaccine candidate. Preliminary data from the study is expected to be available by the end of the month.

If the data suggests the vaccine is safe and effective, the company is expected to file an application for approval for emergency use with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February. Other health regulatory applications around the world are expected to be paralleled.

Supply contracts

The company is committed to selling the vaccine on a non-profit basis for emergency use.

J&J entered into an agreement with the United States in August 2020 to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine after FDA approval or approval and the option to purchase up to 200 million additional doses under a subsequent agreement.

The UK negotiated a deal in August to purchase an initial 30 million doses of the J&J vaccine, with the option to purchase up to 22 million additional doses. The EU signed a contract with J&J in October to supply up to 400 million cans.

J & J has also agreed to provide up to 500 million doses of its vaccine to lower-income countries through COVAX under a fundamental agreement with The Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), which is responsible for equitable access to vaccines. These doses will be distributed through 2022, when the vaccine candidate is approved for use.

“If J & J’s Ad26 platform is able to achieve over 80% efficacy from a single dose, we would consider that a compelling result given the vaccine’s favorable handling requirements and significant manufacturing scale,” said Morgan Stanley.

Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, argues, “The J&J vaccine is why we shouldn’t ditch the two-dose strategy for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. We’ll probably have all the vaccines we need. We need to focus on getting the vaccines into our arms. “

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