Johnson & Johnson Leaps on Phase 3 Vaccine Test

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said Wednesday it has begun its phase three trial testing its potential coronavirus vaccine.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J is the fourth drug maker backed by the Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed to enter late-stage testing. The others are Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN).

The trial will enroll up to 60,000 adult volunteers across 215 locations in the U.S. and other countries, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Participants will be randomly selected to receive a dose of the potential vaccine or a placebo, according to details of the trial, which will determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

J&J has said it is using the same technologies it used to develop its experimental Ebola vaccine. It involves combing genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause common colds in humans.

Pre-clinical studies have shown J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine can generate a promising response in nonhuman primates and hamsters.

A company official said it will likely take six weeks to two months to reach 60,000 participants, allowing J&J to recruit a diverse cohort. The trial will include those with and without other ailments associated with an increased risk for progression to severe COVID-19, and will aim to enroll participants in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and the United States.

JNJ shares hiked $2.41, or 1.7%, to $146.62.