Johnson & Johnson Says Vaccine Prevented Severe COVID-19 Symptoms In Hamsters

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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) said Thursday its unit Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate prevented severe COVID-19 disease in Syrian golden hamsters.

What Happened: The drugmaker's vaccine candidate Ad26.COV2.S produced neutralizing antibodies in the animals and the vaccinated hamsters avoided symptoms of clinical disease upon challenge, it said in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said that Phase 3 trials of the COVID-19 vaccine will start this month.

“This pre-clinical study further validates our confidence in our SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate,” Stoffels said on animal testing results.

Last month, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: REGN) announced its antibody drug combination blocked COVID-19 infection in both hamsters and rhesus macaques.

Why It Matters: The New Jersey-based drugmaker signed a $1 billion deal with the United States government in August to supply the under-development COVID-19 vaccine. The candidate is undergoing Phase 1/2a study in the U.S. and Belgium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified public health authorities in all 50 states this week to begin preparations for administration of two possible coronavirus vaccines by early November.

The two vaccines are likely made by Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA), according to New York Times.

Other companies that have deals to supply vaccines to the government include GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) and Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY).

Price Action: Johnson & Johnson shares traded 0.76% lower at $148.41 in the pre-market session Friday.

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