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Johnson & Johnson Identifies Lead Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate

Johnson & Johnson said trials of its lead cornoavirus vaccine candidate will begin by September at the latest, with emergency use possible in early 2021.

Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Report said Monday that is has identified a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate that could result in more than a billion doses available to address the global pandemic.  

Johnson & Johnson said the vaccine was developed in partnership with Jansen Pharmaceuticals and the U.S Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and that it hopes to initiate human trials for the lead vaccine candidate by September at the latest. The company also said it expects the first batch could be available for emergency use in early 2021.

"The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible," said CEO Alex Gorsky. "As the world's largest healthcare company, we feel a deep responsibility to improve the health of people around the world every day." 

"Johnson & Johnson is well positioned through our combination of scientific expertise, operational scale and financial strength to bring our resources in collaboration with others to accelerate the fight against this pandemic," he added.

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Johnson & Johnson shares were marked 7.8% higher in early Monday trading following the vaccine update to change hands at $132.94 each, a move that trims its one-month loss to around 5%.

Johnson & Johnson said it will expand it global manufacturing capabilities in order to meet its ambition of providing a billion doses, including the building of new sites in the United States.

"The additional capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and will enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine globally," Johnson & Johnson said. "The Company plans to begin production at risk imminently and is committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use."  

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen noted that Johnson & Johnson's early 2021 time is "substantially accelerated" when compared to the typical multi-stage vaccine development process, which can take between five and seven years.