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Johnson & Johnson rolls out early-stage human trials for COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson commenced a phase 1/2a clinical trials of its investigational coronavirus vaccine Ad26.COV2.S.

The New Brunswick, N.J.-based healthcare conglomerate said the first healthy volunteer has been dosed in Belgium, with more than a thousand adults enrolled in the trials that are also taking place in the U.S.

Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. division, announced the launch of the human clinical trials via his LinkedIn page on July 23.

In June, J&J said it is in talks with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to begin a phase 3 trial to evaluate the vaccine ahead of its original schedule, based on results from phase 1 studies and regulatory approvals.

Janssen also previously signed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop the vaccine. J&J has a five-year deal with Gaithersburg, Md.-based Emergent BioSolutions Inc. to produce the drug substance for its vaccine.

As of July 23, more than 15.2 million people have contracted the coronavirus worldwide, resulting in about 624,100 deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering showed. In the U.S. alone, there have been about 3.9 million confirmed cases, with the death toll at 143,100.

READ MORE: Sign up for our weekly coronavirus newsletter here, and read our latest coverage on the crisis here.

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