Johnson & Johnson said the single-shot dose, which will be tested on 60,000 trial participants, followed positive data from a phase 2 trial , which demonstrated that the "safety profile and immunogenicity after a single vaccination were supportive of further development."
The company also reiterated its aim of producing and supplying more than one billion doses of the vaccine -- should it be approved by regulators -- through the course of 2021, and aims to have a decision on the vaccine's effectiveness either later this year or in the first months of the next.
"As COVID-19 continues to impact the daily lives of people around the world, our goal remains the same - leveraging the global reach and scientific innovation of our company to help bring an end to this pandemic," said CEO Alex Gorsky. "As the world's largest healthcare company, we are bringing to bear our best scientific minds, and rigorous standards of safety, in collaboration with regulators, to accelerate the fight against this pandemic."
"This pivotal milestone demonstrates our focused efforts toward a COVID-19 vaccine that are built on collaboration and deep commitment to a robust scientific process," he added. "We are committed to clinical trial transparency and to sharing information related to our study, including details of our study protocol."
Johnson & Johnson shares were marked 1.7% higher in early trading following news of the phase 3 trial to change hands at $146.63 each.
The World Health Organization says that around 150 potential vaccines are currently under some form of study, with 34 active human trials taking place from Russian to Bahrain.
Several U.S. firms are also in the hunt, including Moderna (MRNA) - Get Report, Novavax (NVAX) - Get Report and Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report, which said earlier this month that it's eyeing regulatory approval for it mRNA-based vaccine as early as October.
AstraZeneca's (AZN) - Get Report pause of its late-stage study with Oxford University, however, has ignited the race for a workable vaccine heading into the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, which has infected 30 million people and claimed nearly one million lives.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.'s foremost expert on infectious diseases, said AstraZeneca's decision to pause was "unfortunate", but a likely necessary "safety valve" in the complicated clinical trials process.
His comments echoed those published in a letter signed by the CEO's of nine pharmaceutical companies -- including Moderna -- on September 8, pledging to 'stand with science' and not rush any potential vaccine to market before proper safety procedures were followed in “large, high quality clinical trials”