Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) saw its shares climb 2% on Thursday after the company reported positive results from the early-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine a day ago. The stock has gained 9% in the past three months and over 8% in the past one year. The company’s vaccine candidate has an advantage over its competitors in terms of dosage and storage but this is being hindered by manufacturing issues.
On Wednesday, the results from J&J’s interim Phase 1/2a trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The data showed that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was well-tolerated in general and that after a single dose, neutralizing antibodies were detected in over 90% of participants after 29 days of injection and in 100% after 57 days. These antibodies remained stable after 71 days of injection.
The company hopes to announce topline Phase 3 data for its COVID-19 vaccine later this month but this timing could change. If the vaccine proves effective, J&J will apply for approval with the FDA.
Unlike the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), J&J’s vaccine uses an adenovirus, which is the type of virus that causes the common cold. The adenovirus carries a gene from the coronavirus into human cells, which then produce the coronavirus spike protein. This spike protein helps the immune system fight off any attacks from the virus.
The company has previously used the adenovirus in its Ebola vaccine and in its investigational vaccine for HIV.
Pros & Cons
J&J’s vaccine is expected to have an edge over the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna as it requires only one dose while the other two rely on two doses. J&J’s vaccine can be stored for months at refrigerator temperatures while its rivals’ products require very low temperatures for storage which causes difficulties in transport and distribution.
Experts believe that if J&J’s vaccine demonstrates adequate efficacy and receives approval, it will benefit greatly from the aforementioned advantages. However, according to a report by The New York Times, the company seems to be facing productions lags.
The report says that according to a $1 billion contract signed in August, J&J agreed to have 12 million doses of its vaccine ready by February-end, with this number increasing to 100 million doses by June-end. The company is said to have fallen behind the original schedule and is not expected to catch up until April-end, by when it was supposed to have delivered over 60 million doses.
The report also states that officials associated with the project have said that despite the delay, it is possible J&J might be able to catch up with initial production goals by March. Earlier this month, J&J had stated that its goal was to provide 1 billion doses in 2021 and more after that.
Many analysts are bullish on J&J’s prospects considering the advantages of its COVID-19 vaccine and the growth it is expected to drive for the company.
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