Johnson & Johnson, the largest health care company in the world, has bumped the start of human trials for its potential coronavirus vaccine by two months to begin in July, according to multiple reports.
“Based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development of our investigatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant,” J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said in a statement, according to CNBC.
The study will start in the second half of July and will test 1,045 healthy volunteers in the U.S. and Belgium. It will involve people 18-55 and over 65, the statement said. The initial study will have a placebo arm to compare results against, with researchers analyzing how safe the vaccine is and if it causes an immune response, Business Insider reported.
J&J is one of several working on a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19, which has infected more than 7,360,239 people worldwide and killed at least 416,201 as of Thursday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. saw its total coronavirus cases surpass the 2 million mark Wednesday night, amid a recent spike in infections due to various factors. More than a quarter of all worldwide fatalities have occurred in the U.S.
The company signed deals with the U.S. government last March to increase its manufacturing capacity in order to produce more than 1 billion doses of its vaccine through 2021, according to Reuters. Such developments occurred before evidence has been shown the vaccine works.
A vaccine is seen as crucial to ending the coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands, severely impacted the world’s economy, and resulted in millions of people unemployed at levels not seen since the Great Depression.