J&J is preparing to start human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine this month and is working to accelerate the supply of its vaccines to meet the increasing demand


J&J headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Credit: Ekem at Wikipedia.)

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is in discussions with the Government of Japan and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to secure allocations for its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

In an interview with Reuters, J&J chief financial officer Joseph Wolk said that the company is preparing to begin human trials of the Covid-19 vaccine, and to accelerate its supply to meet the demand.

The company has already reached an agreement with US government, to prioritise the supply of the potential vaccine as part of its funding agreement with the government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

It was earlier reported by the news agency that the company is negotiating with the European Union.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is planning to supply any vaccine it would acquire to developing countries, said Wolk.

Wolk further added: “Nothing has been finalised yet. We continue to have those discussions. People from the countries and the organisations we mentioned want to lock in a certain minimum level of capacity that they would get. The more demand we have the better and lower that cost would potentially be.”

J&J intends to sell potential Covid-19 vaccine on a not-for-profit basis

The discussions are expected to result in a deal resembling AstraZeneca’s agreement with the US government, which offered a funding of $1.2bn to develop a drug in exchange for the delivery of approximately 300 million doses by the end of this year..

AstraZeneca has also been contracted by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to supply up to 400 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The current talks with the Japanese government and the charity organisation are expected to help the J&J in determining the price for its Covid-19 vaccine.

The firm intends to sell on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.

J&J is planning to start the manufacturing of its vaccine later in 2020, following positive results in the clinical trials.

The company will start the first human trials on 22 July and begin late-stage studies in September 2020