Janssen Pharmaceutica launches COVID-19 vaccine trials


The pharmaceutical company Janssen Pharmaceutica, based in Antwerp, has announced that testing of the COVID-19 vaccine on humans will begin in mid-July.

The positive results from the pre-clinical phase and its successful collaboration with the health authorities have accelerated the testing process. Johan Van Hoof, director of Janssen Vaccines, explained the reasons for this acceleration, "This is a vaccine based on those already studied for the cousin of the new coronavirus responsible for SARS in 2002. Our theory is that it used the same gateway (a protein) to infect our lungs and that if we created an immune response against this protein, we could protect ourselves from the virus. The production of these neutralising antibodies and protection against infection have been observed in different animals. We are very optimistic, but it remains to be seen whether this will be confirmed in humans." One thousand healthy adults will be tested initially, about 100 of them in Belgium and the rest in the United States.

The test results will be available next year. If they show that the vaccine is effective, Janssen Pharmaceutica hopes to be able to produce several billion doses of the vaccine in the first half of 2021. In view of the encouraging results of the preclinical tests, the company's management is very optimistic and believes that it has a more than 50% chance of success. It has therefore decided to start partial production now.