Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson confirmed that its lead vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant, would be taken into Phase I/IIa clinical trials in the second of July.
This marks an acceleration on its previous plans to begin the trial in September, which J&J had previously announced to be the scheduled start date when the company announced the selection of its lead candidate in March.
With its vaccine prospect speeding towards late-stage trials, the European Commission (EC) is in advanced talks to secure a supply of the vaccine – by either reserving or buying-up front doses, according to Reuters.
The move would fall in line with the actions of a coalition of European countries to seal a deal with AstraZeneca for access to its lead vaccine candidate. It was announced earlier this month and saw Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands collaborate to arrange the supply of up to 400 million doses.
It is not clear how many vaccines of J&J’s vaccine the EC is negotiating for but it is suggested that the deal could be arranged as early as this week. In addition, it was suggested that the EC is also in talks with Sanofi for a similar agreement.
Race for supply
The EC’s move to arrange a supply of vaccines against COVID-19 emerges as an international bidding war is beginning over the leading efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
The US has been at the center of funding efforts to speed up the development of promising vaccines, with its ‘Operation Warp Speed’ project aiming to have immunization commence at the beginning of 2021.
When AZ announced that it had scaled up manufacturing to produce two billion doses of its lead candidate, both CEPI and Gavi agreed to aid the effort and, in return, would work to ensure fair allocation and distribution globally.
As well as this, the Serum Institute of India arranged a licensing agreement with AZ for one billion doses set to be delivered to low- and middle-income countries.