For coronavirus vaccine watchers, some news from Johnson & Johnson. After announcing in February that it expected vaccine trials to begin in as few as 8 months, on Monday it updated that timeline to seven. The Wall Street Journal reports the company has chosen its "lead candidate" and that human trials will begin no later than September. Its vision is to have the vaccine ready to go in the early part of next year and to manufacture 1 billion doses in 2021. Thanks to an FDA emergency-use authorization, that would be a much faster timeline than the 18 months it usually takes for testing, approval, and production; CNBC notes the company says developing a vaccine typically takes it 5 to 7 years.
It'll get there with help from the feds: The government has agreed to pony up $421 million as part of the company's overall plan to sink $1 billion into expanded manufacturing capacity. It will start on construction of a US facility now as well as expand its capabilities overseas with the expectation it will have data from clinical trials by the end of 2020 that will let it begin manufacturing vaccines at that point, reports Reuters. For now, animal trials will continue. In terms of the vaccine's promise, the company says the vaccine relies on the same technology that underpins its Ebola vaccine. Johnson & Johnson says it will sell the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis but didn't get more specific than that. Its stock is trading up 6.3% on the news. (Read more coronavirus stories.)