This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders – from around the world and all parts of society – address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. It aims to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge. Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
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Humanity has had to contend with epidemics of infectious disease throughout history, and as the current pandemic of novel coronavirus demonstrates, we remain all too vulnerable.
Different factors such as urbanisation, increased global travel and human-animal interactions are among the variables that are increasing the incidence and scale of disease outbreaks with epidemic potential. At Johnson & Johnson, we have always believed in a comprehensive approach to tackling infectious disease – creating new medicines and healthcare products, helping to spearhead public education efforts and investing in on-going education and support for healthcare workers on the frontlines.
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A century ago, Johnson & Johnson played a leading role in helping to limit the impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu, one of the deadliest pandemics in modern history, by introducing an epidemic mask made from sterile gauze. Today, as COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we are mobilising our global reach, vast scientific expertise and extensive partnerships to address the critical needs of families, communities, healthcare professionals and our employees around the world while working toward mitigating and ultimately ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building on the groundbreaking science and scalable production platforms we already have in place from our pioneering work on Ebola, Zika and HIV, our Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies have worked tirelessly on the accelerated development of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19.
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In March, Johnson & Johnson announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. We are moving swiftly toward human clinical trials of the lead candidate by September 2020 and we anticipate the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021 – a substantially accelerated timeframe. For comparison, the typical vaccine development process involves a number of different stages, ranging from five to seven years before a candidate even qualifies for approval.
At the core of our response is our commitment to deliver a safe and effective vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use. Our vaccine development technology and strong global manufacturing capabilities provide us with a unique ability to rapidly develop vaccine candidates and upscale production to ensure we get it in the hands of those who need it most as quickly as possible.
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.
This incredibly swift progress would not be possible without intense public-private collaboration. To that end, we have expanded our landmark partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Together, we have committed more than USD 1 billion dollars of investment to co-fund vaccine research, development and clinical testing.
The only way to beat the COVID-19 crisis is if we come together and commit to science, by Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust
Additionally, we are expanding manufacturing capacity to ensure global supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine worldwide. Recently, Johnson & Johnson announced collaborations with Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. and to support the manufacturing of our lead investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate. These are the first in a series of prospective global collaboration agreements designed to accelerate manufacturing of Johnson & Johnson’s lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and further the company’s goal to supply more than one billion doses of the vaccine globally. 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.
In addition to these efforts, we are working with international partners to screen a library of existing antiviral molecules, with the aim of identifying compounds with promising antiviral activity against the novel coronavirus that could contribute to providing immediate relief to the current outbreak. This work is being conducted in partnership with the Rega Institute for Medical Research (KU Leuven/University of Leuven) in Belgium.
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Johnson & Johnson is also mobilising to provide equipment, training and our products and financial donations to support organisations and healthcare workers on the front lines. Among other initiatives, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation have committed USD 50 million dollars to support and supply frontline health workers – from meals and protective equipment to extra training and mental health support. This commitment expands upon a USD 250 million multi-year commitment made earlier this year to support those on the frontlines guided by the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed that the world needs to be better prepared to respond rapidly to – and even prevent – pandemics. With a 134-year legacy of leading in times of great challenge, we have dedicated our expertise, resources and scale to end this pandemic. We are committed to helping ensure that countries are better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to pandemic threats in the future.
To learn more about our COVID-19 response, please visit www.jnj.com/coronavirus
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