Who would have thought that Syrian golden hamsters could play a significant role in the search for a vaccine that still holds the world in its grip? Earlier today, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) announced in the medical journal “Nature Medicine” that in a preclinical study with these small rodents, the candidate vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, prevented serious clinical disease. Based on its new findings and earlier studies, the company now plans to begin the testing of phase 3 for human clinical trials in the second half of September.

What is there to say about the findings?

The results show robust protection due to the elicited binding and neutralizing antibody responses in the vaccine. This is good for severe clinical disease after a high dose of SARS-CoV-2 infection – noticing the response of the Syrian golden hamsters was assessed over a four-week period. The company mentioned this is the first report on this stage of the disease. An important development is that the viral presence in the lungs decreases significantly from day 2 to day 7 and the vaccinated rodents appeared to lose less weight than the test animals without vaccination. No serious clinical illnesses such as pneumonia or mortality were identified.

“This preclinical study further confirms our confidence in our vaccine candidate SARS-CoV-2. With our Phase 3 trials scheduled to commence this month, we remain committed to expanding our manufacturing and distribution capabilities to enable global access to our SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate should it be safe and effective turn out to be in humans.”

Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer of J&J

This doesn’t mean that the candidate vaccine has the same effect on humans, but it’s important to observe what it does to the virus in other forms of life, especially since Johnson & Johnson focuses on slowing down the complications that occur in patients with the virus. Previously, the company began early-stage human trials in the United States and Belgium in July, after research found that the best-performing candidate vaccine offered strong protection to primates after a single dose.

The price is right

Earlier, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it had reached an agreement worth nearly $1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine with Janssen, J&J’s Belgian pharmaceutical subsidiary. Thanks to this agreement, it’s possible for the federal government to order an additional 200 million doses in the short term. Financially, Johnson & Johnson is strong trading near record highs at over $150 per share. The pharmaceutical company remains at the forefront of the long-term with fundamentals of the highest quality and is also one of the most respected dividend growth stocks to be found on the stock market today.

It’s a sweet billion dollar deal

Johnson & Johnson announced the acquisition of Momenta Pharmaceuticals ($MNTA), which is worth a sensational $6.5 billion. The acquisition gives the pharmaceutical pipeline more ‘body’ and a greater potential in the search of a candicate vaccine. After a meeting between the companies at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January 2019, it was quite exciting to follow the developments surrounding the deal. After 18 months and several hurdles, the two companies had signed the papers.

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By Omar