NJ-based Johnson & Johnson working to develop coronavirus vaccine

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Officials with New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company say that they are working on a vaccine to battle coronavirus.

The virus, which started in China, has claimed over 900 lives and has sickened thousands across the world. There are not cases of coronavirus in New Jersey and Johnson & Johnson leaders say that they want to keep it this way.

“As a player on a global scale with all of the capabilities, we are very well placed to play a very important role,” says Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer.

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Stoffels says that work on the vaccine started shortly after the epidemic developed.

“With our vaccine technology, with our manufacturing capability and a global presence to bring a solution to both health care works and people at risk and patients who need it,” Stoffels says.

The company says that its research is being done by its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, which is also based in New Jersey. Scientists on this project are based at labs that are in the Netherlands. But they are also working with partners worldwide.

“We are absolutely working as fast as possible and we feel confident because people in our networks - so our academic partners that have served in past - they have reached out and we are in contact,” says Hanneke Schuitemaker, head of viral vaccines at Janssen Vaccines & Prevention. “That should help us to go even faster than we currently anticipate "

Johnson & Johnson reports that they are using the same technology being used to accelerate an investigational Ebola vaccine already being used in Africa. The company says that they are optimistic that they can start testing the coronavirus vaccine later this year.

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