J&J on Board with BARDA on Coronavirus

20.02.2020 -

With the spread of the coronavirus raising alarm globally, the US is emerging as the center of the effort to develop a vaccine against the deadly disease. Pharma industry companies with the right resources are linking up with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

France’s Sanofi announced a collaboration with BARDA this week, becoming the second major player to jump into the “game,” following Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The US healthcare giant has said it is pooling money and resources with the research agency in an attempt to accelerate the progress of a vaccine candidate into phase 1 development.

Reflecting what the company called its “broad capabilities,” J&J last month sketched a multipronged approach against the virus and says it is also positioned to provide antivirals for use in China while applying its AdVac and PER.C6 technologies to the development of a vaccine.

Expanding an existing alliance with BARDA, J&J’s Janssen unit said the company and the US authority plan to co-fund R&D on the vaccine, and both will make their resources available for the project.

While the initial agreement covers funding to reduce the length of time it takes for the vaccine to reach phase 1 trials, J&J said it may increase spending to support development of the vaccine once it is in the clinical process.

Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, said J&J is also in discussions with other partners to make a vaccine candidate that has potential accessible to China and other parts of the world. Due to its work in other diseases with pandemic potential, including Ebola, Zika and influenza, Stoffels said the company believes it could leverages Janssen’s technology to “rapidly upscale production.”

While the involvement of BARDA may accelerate its research, J&J said the focus of the project to find a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 remains unchanged.