U.S. pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has added Chile and Peru to the Latin nations where it plans to conduct Phase III trials for its vaccine against COVID-19, a university researcher said.
The study will involve 60,000 volunteers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru and will be coordinated by J&J’s pharmaceutical unit Janssen and local academic centres.
Miguel O’Ryan of the University of Chile’s School of Medicine, which will host the J&J trial, said Chilean government approval was still needed.
“From our point of view, as soon as we have the vaccine available, within three weeks we should be able to vaccinate the first volunteer,” he said.
The J&J trial is one of several likely to take place in Chile. Sinovac is due to launch a search for volunteers shortly, while the country is also in talks with CanSino, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra said previously that trials would be also conducted of the Chinese prototype Sinopharm, and that he was also hoping to confirm by the end of August trials by the AstraZeneca vaccine being developed at Oxford University.
J&J’s prototype uses “viral vectors” to generate immune responses, similar to the approach taken by Oxford’s vaccine developers and China’s CanSino Biologics.
Brazil, Chile, Peru and Colombia have had the highest rates of viral infections in South America, making them attractive testing sites for vaccine developers since it is easier to get dependable trial results in areas with high rates of active transmission and infection.
J&J’s head of vaccines previously told Reuters it aimed to produce 1 billion doses of a potential vaccine next year and would consider injecting healthy volunteers with the novel coronavirus if there are not enough patients for final trials.