Johnson & Johnson Eyes Early Start to Phase III Vaccine Tests

Johnson & Johnson is in talks with the National Institutes of Health to start a Phase III vaccine clinical trial ahead of schedule.
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Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report said Thursday that it was in talks to begin late-stage studies of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in September, ahead of schedule.

Shares of the New Brunswick, N.J., company at last check were little changed at $148.05.

"We are in discussions with the National [Institutes] of Health with the objective to start the Phase III clinical trial ahead of its original schedule, potentially in late September," J&J Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said during an earnings call with investors, according to Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson on Thursday had posted stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings and boosted its full-year profit guidance while confirming its goal of advancing the development of a coronavirus vaccine. 

The company also said that it planned to enter a Phase I human trial next week, which will include more than 1,000 participants. Johnson & Johnson is also planning a Phase II study in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.

The company said that if the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, it would supply more than one billion doses globally through 2021.

More than 100 vaccines are under development, according to the World Health Organization, with at least 23 already in human trials.

On Tuesday, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report confirmed that it is still on track to begin its final-stage coronavirus vaccine trial on July 27.

At 87 locations the company will enroll 30,000 adults who are at high risk of contracting the disease. The estimated completion date is Oct. 27.

There are roughly 13.6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with 584,990 deaths. 

The U.S. has the most cases at 3.5 million and the most deaths at 137,420.