Johnson & Johnson has announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
It has been developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older.
As per data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated and demonstrated a 67 percent reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 disease in participants who received the vaccine in comparison to participants given the placebo.
The onset of protection was observed from day 14 and was maintained 28 days post-vaccination.
Also, the data demonstrated the vaccine was 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease across all regions studied, and showed protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death across countries with different variants, starting 28 days after vaccination.
Variants observed in an ongoing analysis in the ENSEMBLE study included the B.1.351 variant which was identified in 95 percent of the COVID-19 cases in South Africa.
Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Johnson & Johnson, said, “From the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to develop and deliver a vaccine that could protect the health of people everywhere, and today’s milestone represents significant progress toward ensuring global access to our single-shot vaccine.”
He added: “We are moving forward with urgency and purpose to meet our commitments to the global community as we do all we can to help end the pandemic.”
The EUL procedure streamlines the process by which new or unlicensed products can be assessed for use during public health emergencies by governments and United Nations procurement agencies.
It expedites access to such products in many countries around the world and is also a prerequisite to supply vaccines to the new COVAX Facility, a global mechanism for pooled procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in 190 participating countries, including 92 lower-income countries.
Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson, said, “The WHO listing of our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine advances our pledge to help stem this pandemic and our unwavering commitment to equitable access.”
“Achieving this important prerequisite for distributing our vaccine through the COVAX Facility which is co-led by Gavi is a major step forward in making our vaccine accessible for all,” he added.
During December last year, Johnson & Johnson entered into an agreement in principle with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) in support of the COVAX Facility. Johnson & Johnson and Gavi expect to enter into an Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) that would provide up to 500 million doses of the Company’s vaccine to COVAX through 2022.
Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development at Johnson & Johnson, said, “A single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that can be distributed and stored using established supply chains has the potential to be very meaningful in the face of this global pandemic.”
“In addition, the clinical data shared with WHO that informed the Emergency Use Listing demonstrated protection against disease across countries with multiple variants,” Mammen added.
Johnson & Johnson said equitable access is at the center of its COVID-19 response. The Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine candidate and its compatibility with standard vaccine distribution channels align with WHO’s recommendations for medical interventions in a pandemic setting, which emphasize ease of distribution, administration, and compliance.
The firm is committed to ensuring global access to the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.
During September last year, Johnson & Johnson joined other life sciences companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in signing an unprecedented communiqué which outlined a steadfast commitment to facilitating equitable access to the innovations being developed to fight the pandemic.
Johnson & Johnson received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States on February 274 following a unanimous vote by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on February 26, 2021.
The company’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine was also granted Interim Order authorization in Canada on March 5, 20216 and Conditional Marketing Authorization (CMA) in the European Union on March 11, 2021.
The company’s COVID-19 single-shot vaccine is compatible with standard vaccine storage and distribution channels enabling delivery to remote areas. The vaccine is estimated to remain stable for two years at -25 to -15°C, and a maximum of three months of which can be at routine refrigeration at temperatures of 2°-8°C.4,8 This enables the vaccine to be shipped using the same cold chain technologies used to transport other medicines and vaccines in routine use.
The vaccine uses the AdVac vaccine platform, a proprietary technology that was also used to develop and manufacture Janssen’s European Commission-approved Ebola vaccine regimen and construct its investigational Zika, RSV, and HIV vaccines.
The Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in individuals 18 years of age and older.
It was designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Company’s vaccine candidate in protecting against both moderate and severe COVID-19 disease, with assessment of efficacy as of day 14 and as of day 28 as co-primary endpoints.11 The study enrolled a total of 43,783 participants.
Conducted in eight countries across three continents, the trial includes a diverse and broad population of which 34 percent of participants were over age 60.1 Forty-one percent of participants in the study had comorbidities associated with an increased risk for progression to severe COVID-19.
(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)