Coronavirus vaccine update: Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca nearing end of trial

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Amid a bumpy rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the United States, companies completing their clinical trials hope their vaccines can change the game.

Johnson & Johnson is getting closer to seeking emergency approval for its vaccine, which could be a big boost to the supply.

It even has some advantages over the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which each require two doses, several weeks apart, for optimal effectiveness.
"Single dose, that's the big deal," said Dr. Jeffrey Carson with Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences. "It's so much easier to manage vaccinating a population of patients if you only have to give one dose instead of two doses.

Carson is running the trials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on approximately 45,000 people worldwide. He also added that this vaccine doesn't have to be frozen at super-low temperatures.

"We need multiple vaccines, and I think this vaccine has the potential to have a profound impact on our ability to vaccinate a large number of people and to finally get the pandemic under control," Carson said.

As would be expected, anticipation for the vaccine is high to pick up the pace of immunization.

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"Additional manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson will likely be approved in the coming weeks adding to our vaccine supply," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Johnson & Johnson could seek emergency use approval from the FDA by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, at NYU Langone Health in New York City, the AstraZeneca trial is nearing an end.

"This is our hope to have return of normalcy in the next year or two," said Dr. Tina Wu.

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The trial, run by NYU Langone, features a vaccine that is cheaper than others at only $3 or $4 a dose. And massive amounts could be ready soon.

"And it's one that can be manufactured in high numbers, 3 billion doses they say they can make this year," said Dr. Mark Muligan.

Muligan said 35% of the participants are African-American, Hispanic and Native Americans. He said it is important to understand this is a worldwide push and there must be a global perspective.

"As long as there is virus somewhere, there's risk of more disease here," Muligan said.

The leaders of both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson trials are anxious to look at the trial data to make sure the vaccines are effective and get them to the market as soon as possible.

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