US-based Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is in discussions with the Government of Japan, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, regarding allocations of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
In an interview with Reuters, J&J chief financial officer Joseph Wolk said that the company already agreed to an allocation deal with the US as part of its funding agreement with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation intends to provide any vaccine it acquired to developing countries, noted Wolk. According to a previous report by Reuters, J&J is also in discussions with the European Union.
Wolk was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Nothing has been finalised yet. We continue to have those discussions. People from the countries and the organisations we mentioned want to lock in a certain minimum level of capacity that they would get.”
The ‘general construct’ of the talks is expected to be similar to AstraZeneca’s agreement with the US Government, which offered $1.2bn to support drug development in return for committing a delivery of around 300 million doses this year.
In addition, AstraZeneca received a contract from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands for up to 400 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The company also collaborated with non-profits for supply to developing countries.
Wolk added that these talks will help J&J fix a price for its vaccine, which the company plans to sell for no profit during the pandemic. The company intends to begin manufacturing later this year, based on its success in clinical trials.
In an earnings call on 16 July, J&J revealed plans to launch first human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate on 22 July, with late-stage studies planned for September.