Full interview: Johnson & Johnson research exec talks about coronavirus vaccine progress
WRAL's David Crabtree spoke exclusively with Dr. Mathai Mammen of Johnson & Johnson about the company's efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr MTI. Mammon is the global head of research and development in Johnson and Johnson. Doctor, thanks for joining us this evening. Thanks for having me. What makes the Johnson and Johnson vaccine candidate stand out in your mind from the rest it zits based on really good science what we did in our cases. We developed a large number of vaccines that we put through rigorous testing pre clinically and selected what we believed would be the very best one based on pre clinical studies. Put it into humans back at the end of July and found that it did indeed have just excellent ability to induce a robust immune response. If we connect that back to our pre clinical data, we project very high efficacy from that immune response. So that's number one and number two. We believe we can get that robust immune response with a single dose rather than requiring two doses. And number three. It's in a platform that's been in about 100,000 or more people. It's called had 26 as a platform, and that gives us great confidence in the platforms safety primarily and and finally that platform when we've we've had experiences with it before is very stable to the environment where some of the other vaccines you need to keep them in extremely cold temperatures like minus 80 degrees Celsius. Ours weaken store in the refrigerator, you know, and you talk about the single dose. Uh, that is huge when it comes to distribution being able to get the public in Onley one time, do you sense that will make it even mawr? Ah, people would be more open. Two thoughts of becoming vaccinated if they know they only have toe. Have this happened one time? Yeah, I think we're in a very unprecedented time. Has been, has been said numerous times But I think the concept of mass vaccination hundreds of millions, billions of people where they have the logistical challenge of of coming in, others keeping track of whether they've been vaccinated coming back. This is something that I don't think the mass of humanity knows how to do very effectively at the moment for multi dose regimens. So I think you're exactly right. The single dose is gonna be a big advantage. That said, though I have to say we're also going to study this vaccine in a two dose regimen later this year, primarily based in Europe and a little bit in the United States, as well as a belt and suspenders approach. But I have confidence in the single dose regimen. You know, we have Moderna and fighter trials underway here in central North Carolina. Johnson and Johnson Clanton rolls 60,000 people. What type of candidates are you looking for? We're looking for all kinds. So initially they will be in that 18 to 75 or older range. Um, and will will look to expand to special populations. All ethnicities on will eventually be ableto expand into the pediatric population, the Children as well. But right now it's focused on 18 and older. Doctor, I'm curious as a scientist and researcher, and you've been at this a long time when you and your team saw those promising results come in as they have. What was that moment like when you first saw that and thought, Oh my gosh, we may be very closely. I have to say the most overwhelming thought. I think among the team was great relief because it was anticipated for months, right? This was something that the team's been working all the time like literally in the daytime evening weekends. It's in all the time thing. There are people that have worked literally every day for a long, long time. And so you get your hopes up. As you watch the pre clinical data build, you gain confidence that you can manufacture this vaccine. You have problems along the way that you've somehow solved. And then So it all hangs on this immunogen ISS ity data that's coming out of early clinical development and safety. And so that both safety and ImmunoGen Isett e was so strong was on overwhelming sense of relief. Well, we are grateful for your research. We and as the public are hoping that this is the breakthrough. We've been looking forward, no matter who, the company who the researchers are the fact that humanity has the possibility of seeing our way through this pandemic sooner rather than later. Dr. MTI Mammon with Johnson and Johnson, head of global head of research and development, were deeply appreciative of your time and your work. Thank you for having me. Thank you, sir. His youth possible