Johnson & Johnson (J&J), through its pharmaceutical business Janssen, has expanded its collaboration with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to advance the development of its investigational coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine programme.

BARDA is part of the US Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). It is responsible for countermeasures against bioterrorism, chemical, nuclear and radiological threats, along with pandemic influenza and emerging diseases.

Johnson & Johnson executive committee vice chairman and chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels said: “Developing an effective vaccine will be critical if we are to protect people against the novel coronavirus and combat future outbreaks.

“This partnership will ensure that vital research is made possible at rapid speed and underscores the importance of public-private partnerships to tackle the worldwide novel coronavirus epidemic. We are also in discussions with other partners, that if we have a vaccine candidate with potential, we aim to make it accessible to China and other parts of the world.”

Janssen, BARDA to jointly contribute to the research and development of COVID-19 vaccine

J&J has established the collaborative partnership with BARDA as part of its response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 infection, originated in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently renamed the disease caused by the novel coronavirus infection from nCoV-2019 to COVID-19.

The company claimed that in addition to the vaccine development programme, it is joining forces with industry partners to screen its library of antiviral molecules, and advance the discovery of potential treatments for COVID-19.

Under the collaboration agreement, Janssen and BARDA will jointly contribute to the research and development costs and mobilise resources to speed up the initial stages of Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine development programme.

BARDA will finance the development of vaccine candidate up to Phase 1 clinical trial, while Janssen will work on upscaling the production and required manufacturing of the vaccine for the health needs.

BARDA director Rick Bright said: “By leveraging long-standing partnerships and proven technology, we can move rapidly to address emerging health threats like this novel coronavirus. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect the health of the people in the United States and across the globe.”