J&J developing coronavirus vaccine, at least nine other vaccines under development

Two more companies have announced that they are developing vaccines to protect against the 2019-nCoV outbreak that was first detected in Wuhan, China, bringing the total number of vaccine development programs to at least 10.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) “has initiated efforts to develop multiple vaccine candidates against coronavirus and broadly collaborate with others to screen its library of antiviral therapies which may contribute to providing immediate relief to the current coronavirus outbreak,” Paul Stoffels, J&J vice chairman and CSO, said in a statement provided to BioCentury.

Stoffels said J&J “will utilize the same technology that was used in the development and manufacture of Johnson & Johnson’s Ebola vaccine which is currently deployed in DRC and Rwanda. The same technology was also used to construct our Zika and HIV vaccine candidates.”

J&J’s Ebola vaccine, and its candidate vaccines for Zika and HIV, involve a two-vaccine “prime/boost” strategy. The first vaccine is based on a human adenovirus type 26 vector encoding viral antigens, while the boost is a recombinant protein.

In an interview on CNBC television, Stoffels noted that it took J&J one year to develop a vaccine for Zika and suggested the 2019-nCoV timeline could be similar. J&J is gearing up manufacturing capacity and could produce 300,000 doses of a vaccine by the time a candidate vaccine would be ready for large-scale deployment, he said.

Separately, GeoVax Labs Inc. (OTCQX:GOVX) said it signed a letter of intent to collaborate with BravoVax Co. Ltd., a vaccine developer in Wuhan, to develop a 2019-nCoV vaccine. GeoVax plans to use its Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine technology to develop the product, and “BravoVax will provide further development, including testing and manufacturing support, as well as direct interactions with Chinese public health and regulatory authorities,” the companies said.

Other 2019-nCoV vaccine development programs have been announced by: Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA); Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO); The University of Queensland; Codagenix Inc.; CureVac AG; Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX); the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine; and the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre (see “The Race is on to Develop Therapies and Vaccines for The Coronavirus Outbreak”).

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