By Andrew Trunsky –
Johnson & Johnson began its final round of testing for its COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.
The study is one of the most expansive to occur so far, involving 60,000 volunteers across the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico and South Africa, the Associated Press reported. The vaccine is the latest to begin its final testing phase, joining candidates developed by Moderna and Pfizer, and is the only vaccine that would be administered as a single dose.
“We want to do everything we can without sacrificing safety or efficacy… to make sure that we end up with vaccines that are going to save lives,” Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins said to reporters, according to AP.
President Donald Trump has floated the possibility of a vaccine before Election Day, despite health officials in his administration saying that a vaccine is unlikely to be completed and distributed before mid-2021.
“Big news. Numerous great companies are seeing fantastic results. The FDA must move quickly!” he tweeted Wednesday morning in reaction to Johnson and Johnson’s announcement.
Johnson & Johnson has begun the final stage of clinical trials for its coronavirus vaccine. Unlike some of its competitors, the vaccine does not need to be frozen and may require just one shot instead of two. https://t.co/nYdwvcdJfm
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 23, 2020
A Tuesday poll showed that 61% of Americans would not take any vaccine once first available, an eight-point drop since August.
Despite the decline in confidence, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a call earlier this week that he was confident an effective vaccine would emerge from “a tried and true process” that included rigorous testing, independent evaluations and “the integrity of the FDA,” according to AP.
The Centers for Disease Control was also set to announce Wednesday the distribution of $200 million of congressionally approved funds to states to help begin preliminary distribution of a vaccine once it is available, AP reported.
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