Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky celebrates the 75th anniversary of his company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, 2019.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
People may need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 annually for the next several years, just like they would with seasonal flu shots, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately as [the virus] Spreads can also mutate, “he told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell during a Healthy Returns Spotlight event.” Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click on the dial, so to speak, where we can see another variant, another mutation that can affect its ability to fight off antibodies or not just a therapeutic agent, but also react differently to a vaccine. “
Public health officials and infectious disease experts have indicated that there is a high probability that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will be present in communities at all times, albeit likely at lower levels than it is now. Health officials must constantly look for new variants of the virus so scientists can make vaccines against them, medical experts say.
Gorsky’s comment came after J&J stated it had applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval for its coronavirus vaccine. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, which require two doses three to four weeks apart, J&J only requires one dose, which makes logistics easier for healthcare providers.
US officials and Wall Street analysts are eagerly awaiting J & J’s vaccine approval, which could come as early as this month. President Joe Biden is trying to speed up the pace of vaccination in the US, and experts say his government will need a range of drugs and vaccines to beat the virus that killed more than 450,000 Americans last year at Johns Hopkins University .
The Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that it had signed a contract with Janssen, J & J’s pharmaceutical subsidiary, worth approximately $ 1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine. The deal gives the federal government the opportunity to order another 200 million cans, according to the announcement.
Gorsky told CNBC that the company’s first priority is to work with the FDA for US approval. He said J&J was “at full speed” making vaccines, adding the company was “extremely confident” of achieving its goal of shipping 100 million doses of its Covid vaccine to the US by the end of June.
“We will keep our commitments while doing everything we can to safely and effectively speed production,” he said, adding that people are “very excited” to get a single shot of the virus.
J&J continues to work on a two-dose coronavirus vaccine, Gorsky said. The company expects two-shot vaccine data from clinical trials in the second half of 2021.