February 26, 2021: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) recommended approval of an Emergency Use Authorization for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine by a vote of 22-0 with no abstentions. Following the meeting, the FDA announced that it “has informed the sponsor that it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization. The agency has also notified our federal partners involved in vaccine allocation and distribution so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution.”
Johnson & Johnson announced that it is able to begin delivery of the Janssen vaccine immediately after the EUA is issued and expects to deliver at least 20 million doses of the vaccine to the US by the end of March. Because this vaccine only requires one shot, that translates into 20 million people being fully vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine by the end of March. The Company plans to deliver a total of 100 million doses of the vaccine to the US by July 1, 2021.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet on Sunday, February 28th to discuss recommendations concerning utilization and distribution of the Janssen vaccine. On Monday, March 1st, the ACIP will meet to discuss issues concerning COVID-19 vaccines more generally. The full agenda for the meetings on both Sunday and Monday can be found here. The meeting is open to the public and can be viewed via webcast. A link for the webcast can be found here.
February 25, 2021: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will discuss Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen) request for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Company’s vaccine candidate, AD26.COV2.S at a meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) tomorrow (February 26, 2021). The meeting is scheduled to begin a 9:00 am EST. A draft agenda for the meeting can be found here. The meeting is open to the public and will be available to watch via the following links:
February 24, 2021: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released detailed findings from the Phase 3 trial of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2.S (also known as, JNJ-78436735). The materials available include: a 119-page report prepared by Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), an 8-page addendum to the report, and a 62-page briefing document prepared by the FDA. On pages 12-13, the briefing document concludes: “As such, FDA has determined that the Sponsor has provided adequate information to ensure the vaccine’s quality and consistency for authorization of the product under an EUA.” Per the briefing document (page 12), the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet on Friday, February 26, 2021, “to discuss and provide recommendations on whether based on the totality of scientific evidence available, the benefits of the Janssen Ad26.COV2.S vaccine outweigh its risks for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.” This is the criterion used by the FDA when determining whether to grant an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a vaccine. We plan to report summarized safety and efficacy findings from this study within the next few days.
February 4, 2021: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will discuss Johnson & Johnson’s request for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Company’s vaccine candidate, AD26.COV2.S at a meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on February 26, 2021. Background material will be made available to the public by February 24th. We will provide links to those materials on this site as soon as they become available. The meeting will be livestreamed on the FDA’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels. We will provide links to these channels for those who wish to watch.
February 4, 2021: Johnson & Johnson announced that they have submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their vaccine candidate, AD26.COV2.S. The Company plans to be ready to ship doses of the vaccine immediately after receiving authorization from the FDA. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a potentially important addition to the other vaccines currently available in the United States because it is estimated to be 85% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 after a single dose and it can be shipped using normal distribution channels. The Company estimates that the vaccine can be stored a standard refrigerator temperatures (36-46º F) for up to three months.
January 29, 2021: Johnson & Johnson announced findings from the ENSEMBLE trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of a single dose of their vaccine candidate, AD26.COV2.S. This study was conducted in several countries, including the United States and South Africa. In the United States, a single dose of this vaccine was found to be 72% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 beginning 28 days after vaccination. The effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 was 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa. (When averaged across all study sites the vaccine was found to be 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and 85% effective in preventing severe COVID19. No deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in the vaccine group, whereas 5 COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the placebo group.) The Company also reported that the vaccine was well-tolerated and that no safety concerns were identified.
The ENSEMBLE trial included nearly 44,000 participants, with 34% of participants over age 60. In their press release, the Company stated: “The study enrolled 44% (N=19,302) of participants in the United States, 41% (N=17,905) in Central and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru) and 15% (N=6,576) in South Africa.” The table below shows the race/ethnicity of study participants, both globally and for the US only.
The Company reported that vaccine efficacy was mostly consistent across racial/ethnic and age groups, and across different variants of the virus and regions studied. In South Africa, about 95% of the COVID-19 cases observed among study participants were due to infection with a variant of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus from the B.1.351 lineage. It is unclear if the lower efficacy observed among South African participants was due to the vaccine providing less protection against these variants.
The Company is planning to file a request for an emergency use authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early February. This request will contain detailed findings from the study. Based on experience with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, we anticipate that the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet to review the EUA request in mid to late February. Materials submitted by Johnson & Johnson and the results of independent analyses conducted by FDA staff should be available to the public about two days before the VRBPAC meeting.
If the EUA is granted, the Company expects to be able to meet all 2021 supply commitments. Notably, Johnson & Johnson was part of Operation Warp Speed and received $456 million for research to develop a vaccine and $1 billion to deliver 100 million vaccine doses.
In addition to the ENSEMBLE trial described above, Johnson & Johnson is conducting the ENSEMBLE 2 trial which is studying the safety and efficacy of a two-dose regimen of the AD26.COV2.S vaccine. Enrollment of study participants in ENSEMBLE 2 began on November 15, 2020.
December 17, 2020: Johnson & Johnson announced that enrollment in the ENSEMBLE study has been completed. This study is evaluating a single dose of the vaccine candidate AD26.COV2.S. About 45,000 people have been enrolled in the study. The company expects to be able to report interim findings from the study by the end of January 2021. However, this will depend on the rate at which people in the study get moderate/severe COVID-19. (The protocol for this study states that the first interim analyses will be performed when 20 people in the study have developed moderate/severe COVID-19. If the vaccine is effective, most of these cases will occur among people who received the placebo vaccine.)
If the data support the safety and efficacy of the AD26.COV2.S vaccine, the company expects to submit an application for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the US Food and Drug Administration in February. If a EUA is approved, AD26.COV2.S would become the third vaccine approved for use in the US and it would be the first to require only a single dose. It is important to remember, however, that no safety or efficacy data have yet been reported from the study.
The Company intends to file for U.S. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in early February and expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization. It expects to share more information on specifics of deployment as authorizations are secured and contracts are finalized. The Company’s anticipated manufacturing timeline will enable it to meet its 2021 supply commitments, including those signed with governments and global organizations.
November 15, 2020: Johnson & Johnson announced a second global Phase 3 study of its candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S. This vaccine is also known as JNJ-78436735. This new study will evaluate a 2-dose vaccine regimen. The new study is called ENSEMBLE 2. See Table 1 under Phase 3 Studies for more details about the study.
October 23, 2020: Johnson & Johnson announced that it is preparing to resume recruitment in the United States in its Phase 3 trial of the candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S. This vaccine is also known as JNJ-78436735. This trial is called the ENSEMBLE trial. The temporary pause was triggered when one study participant developed a serious medical event. The nature of the event was not disclosed due to patient privacy concerns. The company reported that no clear cause for the event could be identified and that there was no evidence that the vaccine caused the event. The Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) overseeing this trial determined that it was safe to resume recruitment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed with this decision. The company is in discussion with other regulatory agencies around the world to resume the study in other countries.
October 12, 2020: Johnson & Johnson paused its Phase 3 trial of the investigational vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S. This trial is called the ENSEMBLE trial. Until the trial is resumed, no new participants will be enrolled in the trial and no participants in the trial will be vaccinated. In large clinical trials, it is not unusual for some study participants to experience major medical events and these events often happen by chance. When a serious adverse event happens, the trial is paused to allow the Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) overseeing the trial, as well as regulatory agencies like the FDA, an opportunity to review data from the trial and determine if it is safe to resume. In their press release, Johnson & Johnson also provided information to clarify the difference between a “Study Pause” and a “Regulatory Hold”.
September 23, 2020: Johnson & Johnson announced the launch of its Phase 3 trial of the investigational vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S. This trial is called the ENSEMBLE trial. In the press release, Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson stated: “We greatly value the collaboration and support from our scientific partners and global health authorities as our global team of experts work tirelessly on the development of the vaccine and scaling up our production capacity with a goal to deliver a vaccine for emergency use authorization in early 2021.”