Johnson & Johnson today began the final stage of a huge study to try to show whether a single-dose vaccine against Covid-19 can protect from the virus.
It will be one of the largest vaccine studies in the world against coronavirus to date, as it will test the vaccine on 60,000 volunteers in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and South Africa.
Other vaccines in the United States – including those made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc., and others in several countries – are already in the final stage of testing. There is high hope that by the end of the year there will be success with at least one of the candidates being tested in the United States, perhaps sooner.
US health officials insist that the global search for a vaccine is not taking risky shortcuts.
“We want to do everything we can without sacrificing safety or efficacy. We’re not going to do that, to make sure we end life-saving vaccines, “Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters.
Still, many vaccine specialists wonder whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will stick to that goal under intense pressure from the administration of President Donald Trump, which is seeking reelection in the November election.
Trump has consistently come up with a faster schedule for a new vaccine than experts say is appropriate.
Today, Trump tweeted a link to a news report on the Johnson & Johnson study, saying the FDA “must act quickly.”
Meanwhile, testing of another experimental vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, remains temporarily halted in the United States while authorities examine safety issues, even though studies with it have already resumed in other countries.
Days ago, Vice President Mike Pence urged state governors to “do their part to build public confidence that it will be a safe and effective vaccine.”