Janssen to begin COVID-19 vaccine trials in the UK

Covid-19 News | Healthcare | Latest News | South East

Global pharmaceutical company Janssen will begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK from today, involving 6,000 volunteers across the country.

The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, is the latest study in the UK, jointly funded by the UK government’s Vaccine Taskforce, to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. It is the third potential vaccine to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside US biotech company Novavax and University of Oxford / AstraZeneca whose studies are currently ongoing.

6,000 UK volunteers, some from the NHS Vaccines Registry, will take part in the Janssen studies at 17 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites, including in Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, London Leicester, Sheffield, Manchester, Dundee and Belfast. Recruitment into the study will complete in March 2021 and the trial will last for 12 months.

To date, over 300,000 people have signed up to the NHS Vaccines Registry to take part in vital coronavirus vaccine studies.

Experts have cautioned that no one vaccine is likely to be suited for everyone, and that a wide range of types are needed to ensure people across the UK have access to one that works for them, so they are urging more people to sign-up to ensure clinical trials that test the safety and effectiveness of potential vaccine candidates continue. The NHS vaccine registry particularly needs volunteers who are most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus, including frontline health and social care workers and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “The start of further clinical trials in the UK is yet another step forward in the race to discover a safe and effective vaccine, and comes alongside recent news that we could be on the cusp of the first major breakthrough since the pandemic began. While we are optimistic with the progress being made, there are no guarantees and it is possible there will be no one-size-fits-all vaccine. That is why it is absolutely vital that while our scientists are cracking on with the job, we continue to follow the guidance to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

The UK government has developed a portfolio of 6 different vaccine candidates and secured access to 350 million doses to date, putting the UK in the best position for a vaccine. Of this, 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine could be made available to the UK if it is safe and effective by mid-2021.

Professor Saul Faust, Director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility and Chief Investigator for the Janssen Phase 3 trial, said: “Finding an effective vaccine with a good safety profile is a top priority in helping to protect us all more quickly against COVID-19. While the news of a potential vaccine is tremendously exciting, our ambition in the scientific community is to ensure we leave no stone unturned in the search for a solution to help end this pandemic. All the vaccines that are being trialled work by generating immune responses to the same part of the coronavirus as the RNA vaccine that has announced some interim early results.”

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