Norman J. Dotson Jr./ BNC Digital Producer
In a string of bold moves in the battle against the Coronavirus, the Trump administration has signed a near half a billion dollar deal with one company to find a vaccine for this novel virus.
The Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) signed a $456 million order with Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceuticals arm Janssen making it the largest reported amount spent on a vaccine project. Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals hasn’t started any clinical trials for a vaccine but expects human clinical studies for its vaccine candidate to go ahead, at the latest, by September 2020, with first rounds being in early 2021.
This followed another order, made as part of the same contract with Janssen, for $150 million on March 20, 2020, for a “new antiviral” for COVID-19.
Johnson & Johnson also announced a collaboration with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in developing potential preventive vaccine candidates for COVID-19. The company is looking to use the same technologies it used for developing vaccine candidates for Ebola, Zika and HIV. At the time, the firm announced it hoped to identify a vaccine candidate by the end of the month for clinical trials.
Experts maintain it’s highly unlikely a vaccine will be made available this year.