Johnson & Johnson has joined a suite of drugmakers hoping to pump out a COVID-19 vaccine as fast as possible. Now, the company is pairing with a contract manufacturer to prep the field for its potential vaccine launch.
J&J inked a deal with Emergent BioSolutions to boost manufacturing of the New Jersey drugmaker's top COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which the company hopes to move into phase 1 trials in September, J&J said in a release.
As part of the deal, J&J will expand its own capacity for producing the vaccine candidate, and Emergent will begin using its "molecule-to-market" manufacturing to chip in later this year. Emergent will also reserve capacity to support a potential commercial rollout of J&J's shot beginning as early as 2021 should it nab an approval.
J&J has already earmarked its Leiden, Netherlands facility for clinical vaccine production and plans to begin manufacturing the vaccine "at-risk" to support human trials.
Meanwhile, J&J is aiming to amp up vaccine capacity worldwide in anticipation of a potential rollout around the world. The drugmaker called the Emergent deal the "first in a series" to help boost its global production scale in preparation for its hoped-for approvals.
"The additional global capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine to people around the world," J&J said in a release.
Despite J&J's hopes that its vaccine could be ready to ship as early as next year, some market watchers think that timeline is woefully optimistic.
In a 25-page note earlier this week titled “Sober Up! 25 Reasons Not to Count on COVID Vaccine for Herd Immunity in 1-2 years,” SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges says it’ll take several years—not months—to develop a safe and effective vaccine and administer it to enough people for widespread protection.
“We view the current expectations for a vaccine in this timeframe as the equivalent of standing 24 feet (the usual distance is 8 feet) from a dartboard, with one dart in hand, and counting on a bullseye from one throw,” the analyst wrote. “It is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely, that such expectations are correct