PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, announced Monday it’s making progress with a new vaccine against the coronavirus. The company says, in addition to the vaccine, it’s working on shortages of its pain reliever Tylenol and helping to resupply hand sanitizers.
Doctors say it won’t help right now, but a healthy future depends on finding a coronavirus vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson says its vaccine for COVID-19 will be ready for phase one human clinical trials by September. If it works, the company says it could be available for emergency use early next year.
“We’ve used this platform for things like SARS, Ebola and other areas, but it’s also important that it’s effective and we have to conduct those tests in number of different models,” said Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. “We hope to have literally hundreds of millions of doses of this vaccine available by the second quarter next year.”
Johnson & Johnson is one of many companies racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
So far, there is no proven or approved treatment.
“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned across all of our different businesses,” Gorsky said.
Gorsky outlined other avenues for the company in battling COVID-19 — one being trying to deal with a shortage of its product Tylenol, an effective pain and fever reliever for patients with the coronavirus.
“In certain cases we’ve actually taken some of our rapid relief gels that, frankly, has a lower yield than some of our other caplets and we’ve redirected that capacity so we could increase the amount of caplets that we’re actually producing,” Gorsky said.
The company has also been able to produce hand sanitizers which have also been in short supply.
“Literally, in a period of about a week or two, we were able to convert the manufacturing system, so now, I think, we were able to produce almost 150,000 bottles of hand sanitizer,” Gorsky said.
The vaccine development is a joint venture between the U.S. government and Johnson & Johnson, which is being paid, but the CEO says the company is committed to do this on a not-for-profit basis.