Late-stage study of first single-shot vaccine begins in US

A huge final study is set to begin to try to prove if a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine can protect against the virus.

The Johnson & Johnson study starting on Wednesday will be one of the world's largest coronavirus vaccine studies so far, testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the US, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

A late-stage trial of a COVID-19 vaccine will begin soon.Credit:AP

A handful of other vaccines in the US — including shots made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. — and others in other countries are already in final-stage testing. Hopes are high that answers about at least one candidate being tested in the US could come by year's end or sooner.

US health officials insist the race for a vaccine isn't cutting corners.

President Donald Trump is pushing for a coronavirus vaccine by election day, but drug companies say they will not hurry proper clinical trials.Credit:AP

And top US infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, added in the call to governors that he was confident in “a tried and true process” that had checks and balances built in, including an independent board evaluating the progress of each vaccine trial, as well as “the integrity of the FDA”.

A recording of the call was provided to The Associated Press.

Senators were scheduled to question FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Fauci and other administration officials later on Wednesday about the pandemic response.

Even if the FDA were to allow emergency use of a vaccine by year's end, supplies would be limited and given first to vulnerable groups such as health workers. Most Americans aren't likely to receive a vaccine until sometime next year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants states to get ready now to roll out vaccinations, which will present enormous logistical challenges. The CDC was set to announce on Wednesday the distribution of $200 million in congressionally approved funds to help begin setting up operations.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the COVID-19 vaccine campaign would build on longstanding cooperation between the federal government and the states on immunisations.

J&J's vaccine is made with slightly different technology than others in late-stage testing, modeled on an Ebola vaccine the company created.

Unlike the other three vaccines that started late-stage testing in the US, it requires only one shot, not two. Despite a later start to testing than some of its competitors, Dr Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, told reporters that the study was large enough to yield answers possibly by early next year.

AP

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