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Johnson & Johnson Announces a Lead Vaccine Candidate for COVID-19

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson plans to begin human clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine by September with a goal of the first batches being made available for emergency use authorization by early next year, according to a company announcement released Monday.

Though not a major vaccine maker, Johnson & Johnson (ticker: JNJ) was among the first companies to announce a Covid-19 vaccine development program back in January.

Johnson & Johnson said it planned to make the vaccine available “on a not-for-profit basis.”

“The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a Covid-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.

The company said it is also increasing its manufacturing capacity with a new site in the U.S. and additions to existing sites in other countries to produce and distribute the potential vaccine quickly.

“We have very good early indicators that not only can we depend on this to be a safe vaccine base but also one that will ultimately be effective based on all the early testing and modelling we’ve been doing,” Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday.

Johnson & Johnson isn’t the only company racing to create a vaccine as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads like wildfire around the world.

US biotech firm Moderna shipped its vaccine to government researchers for testing in February and the first dose was administered to trial participants earlier this month, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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