PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday the beginning of Phase 3 clinical trials of its one-dose coronavirus vaccine. Volunteers will be recruited from here in the Philadelphia region for that research, as well as others already underway.
Also today, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning people to take safety precautions seriously as new cases of COVID-19 have grown in at least 22 states over the past couple weeks.
There’s now laser focus on the vaccines in development, including many that are being tested in the Philadelphia area.
With flags at the Washington Monument representing the 200,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, Johnson & Johnson — based in New Brunswick, New Jersey — announced a Phase 3 trial of its vaccine, which requires only one dose and does not need to be stored in subzero temperatures.
It’s the fourth large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trial in the final phases of testing.
“So we don’t know yet what it will look like or when it will come, but that does not mean that the preparations on the ground is not being laid,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Penn Medicine in Philadelphia will be among the centers testing a variety of vaccines, including one from Inovio in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. That isn’t as far along in testing as some others.
“I think it’s incumbent upon everyone to do whatever they can in a moment like this,” vaccine volunteer Anthony Campisi said.
Campisi, who works in Center City, volunteered to test the Inovio vaccine. Eyewitness News talked to him in May.
“Absolutely no symptoms whatsoever,” he said.
On Capitol Hill, the nation’s top infectious disease expert is optimistic about the vaccines being tested.
“As these trials go on, we predict some time by the end of the year, let’s say November or December, we will know whether or not these are safe and effective,” Dr. Fauci said.
The FDA is expected to release a tough new standard for emergency authorization of a vaccine in an effort to quell concerns that politics will overshadow science.
“In the end, FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine we would not feel comfortable giving to our families,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said.
Even after a vaccine becomes available, Dr. Fauci believes Americans will have to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing because he says it’s unusual for a vaccine to be 100% effective. And assuming there’s enough vaccine, it will take some time to distribute the shots.