Johnson & Johnson's closely watched single-shot COVID-19 vaccine readout 'next week' as CFO sees 'robust data'

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While the world struggles with two-shot vaccine production as a handful of pharma companies try to make enough for almost the entire global population, a single-dose option from Johnson & Johnson has become a major hope in the fight against COVID-19.

Candidates from AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech all require two full doses, but with so many countries demanding more, supply is struggling to keep up. Many governments are now faced with tough choices, such as either delaying a second shot—required for the full immune response needed according to data from clinical trials—or getting one dose out to as many people as possible in the hope of partly protecting most rather than almost fully protecting all.  

New variants detected in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa, which are more transmissible and may be less susceptible to current vaccines, mean the race is on to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest time frame.

This is where a highly efficacious single-shot regimen would become invaluable. That is exactly what J&J is working on, but, during its full-year financials today, the Big Pharma said data from its phase 3, which would likely lead to emergency clearance if strong enough, would not be out until next week.

This is a small delay, as it had been guided by the end of January, but Chief Financial Officer Joe Wolk said it will be reporting phase 3 data “early next week,” telling CNBC: “We're optimistic. We think we're going to have a very robust data set.”

It’s looking to ramp up manufacturing and plans to onboard seven vaccine production facilities by the end of the second quarter to allow it to have 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of June and 200 million to the EU by the end of the year.