COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate from Johnson & Johnson Prevents Severe Clinical Disease in Susceptible Animals; Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial Ongoing in Humans; Pending Success, Phase 3 Efficacy Trial in 60,000 Participants on Track for September 2020 Start

Most people with COVID-19 have relatively mild disease, but a subset of people develop severe pneumonia and respiratory failure, potentially leading to death. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) immunologist Dan H. Barouch, MD, PhD, and colleagues showed in recently published previous work that a candidate COVID-19 vaccine raised neutralizing antibodies that robustly protected non-human primates (NHPs) against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now, in new research published online on September 3, 2020 in Nature Medicine, Dr. Barouch and colleagues have demonstrated that the optimal vaccine elicited robust immune response in Syrian golden hamsters and prevented severe clinical disease--including weight loss, pneumonia, and death. The open-access article is titled “Ad26 Vaccine Protects Against SARS-CoV-2 Severe Clinical Disease in Hamsters.” "We recently reported that an Ad26-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provided robust protection in rhesus macaques, and this vaccine is currently being evaluated in humans," said Dr. Barouch, who is Director of BIDMC's Center for Virology and Vaccine Research. "However, nonhuman primates typically don't get severe clinical disease, and thus it was important to study whether this vaccine could prevent severe pneumonia and death due to SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters, which are more susceptible to clinical disease." The vaccine--developed through a collaboration between BIDMC and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)--uses a common cold virus, called adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26), to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein into host cells, where it stimulates the body to raise immune responses against the coronavirus.
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