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Janssen Pharmaceutica starts COVID-19 vaccine trials in July

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica reports that it wants to start testing a candidate vaccine against COVID-19 on humans in the second half of July. These clinical trials will partially take place in Flanders. There is a real chance, if all goes well, that a vaccine for coronavirus will be available in the first half of 2021.

A randomized, double-blind study

Janssen Belgium

The tests will be performed in the US and Flanders/Belgium on 1,045 healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old as well as a number of people aged 65+. At the same time, Johnson & Johnson is negotiating to establish partners globally and continuing its efforts to invest in its technology and vaccine production capacity.

The test will be a randomized, double-blind study with a placebo control group. This means that one group in the study is given the vaccine and a control group receives a placebo, a non-active agent. Double-blind indicates that neither the researchers nor the participants know who will receive a placebo and who will receive the real vaccine.

By using this method, Janssen Pharmaceutica will rigorously test the safety of the vaccine and check the 'reactogenicity', the ability of the vaccine to elicit a reaction, and the 'immunogenicity', the reaction of the immune system to the vaccination.

A vaccine by the first half of 2021

Johan Van Hoof, head of the vaccines department at Janssen Pharmaceutica, is optimistic. “There is a real chance that a coronavirus vaccine will be available in the first half of 2021. In January, we started with 12 candidate vaccines. Due to the rapid progress and excellent results of animal testing as well as the excellent collaboration we’ve had with legislators and authorities, we were able to select a final vaccine candidate sooner than expected. Based on those successes, we expect to have an effective vaccine in the first half of next year.”

1000 volunteers needed

"In total, we expect to recruit a thousand people for the tests,” Johan continues. “We want to make sure the vaccine is safe, but above all, we want to ensure that it produces the right immune response.” Johan is also confident about the safety of the vaccine. “The platform on which the vaccine was based has already been used by 67,000 people. So, I don’t expect any surprises there.”

More info

Janssen Pharmaceutica
Reported by
VRT NWS website
11 June 2020

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