July 21, 2020, 03.04 PM

WASHINGTON, KOMPAS.com – American conglomerate Johnson & Johnson is in the midst of several negotiations with various countries for its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The company is preparing to start human trials for its vaccine, according to Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk during an interview with Reuters.

The Japanese government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among some of the parties engaged with Johnson & Johnson about locking up allocation for the company’s potential Covid-19 vaccine.

Read also: China's Covid-19 Vaccine Brought to Indonesia for Phase 3 Clinical Trials

Reuters previously reported that the European Union is also in talks with the American conglomerate.

Around the world, drugmakers are working to increase the supply for their vaccines in the face of unprecedented demand.

There have been more than 100 Covid-19 vaccines under development to stop the deadly virus.

Read also: Western Governments Accuse Russia of Hacking Virus Vaccine Trials

Johnson & Johnson has already made an agreement with the United States government to prioritize vaccine allocation for the world’s largest economy.

The move is part of the company’s funding agreement with the US government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Joseph Wolk noted.

The allocation of a vaccine to developing countries is the priority for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read also: Novartis Scraps Fees of Covid-19 Drugs for Developing Countries

"Nothing has been finalized yet. We continue to have those discussions," Wolk told Reuters.

"People from the countries and the organizations we mentioned want to lock in a certain minimum level of capacity that they would get."

Wolk said that the "general construct" of the discussions is likely to take a form similar to AstraZeneca Plc’s deal with the US government.

The US government provided $1.2 billion in drug development aid to the UK drugmaker in exchange for locking in a delivery of around 300 million doses for fall 2020.

AstraZeneca has also signed a contract with France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands for up to 400 million doses of its potential vaccine.

Read also: Indonesia Eyes Local Covid-19 Vaccine Mass Production by Mid-2021

It has also partnered with non-profits to ensure distribution to developing countries.

Wolk added that these discussions will help Johnson & Johnson determine pricing for its vaccine, which the US drugmaker intends to sell on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.

"The more demand we have, the better and lower that cost would potentially be,” Wolk said.

The company aims to begin manufacturing the vaccine later this year, depending on its success in clinical trials, he added.

In its Thursday earnings call, J&J said it plans to start its first human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine on July 22 and could kick off late-stage studies as soon as September. 

(Writer: Carl O'Donnell, Manas Mishra | Editor: Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Shumaker) 

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-johnson-johnson-va/exclusive-jj-in-talks-with-japan-gates-foundation-to-lock-in-deals-on-covid-19-vaccine-idUSKCN24H2FB

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