The US government will fund and conduct key studies on three experimental coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, tells CNN.
Phase 3 trials, which typically involve tens of thousands of people and measure whether a vaccine is safe and effective, will begin with one by Moderna in July, then an Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in August and one by Johnson & Johnson in September.
The funding and trial timing were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. CNN has reached out to the companies for comment.
“The coronavirus vaccine effort is progressing very well and we expect more than one candidate vaccine to be in advanced clinical testing by early summer,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “This is good news for the overall coronavirus vaccine effort.”
Each Phase 3 trial is expected to take place at more than 50 sites, mostly in the United States, but possibly in other countries, too. The trials, which are expected to include about 30,000 people, will begin only after there’s enough evidence of safety and efficacy from earlier trial stages.
The US government might also plan Phase 3 trials for additional coronavirus vaccines currently in development. According to the World Health Organization, there are 10 vaccines currently in human trials and 126 more in development.
Fauci said the funding decision came from the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the National Institute of Health and other agencies. He also said that the testing plans still track with the timeline that he has suggested in the past: a vaccine at scale by the end of the year or early next year.
Last week, Fauci said the US should have 100 million doses of one candidate coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of 2021, but many doctors caution that is an ambitious goal. He has also said there will be “more than one winner” in the Covid-19 vaccine field on Tuesday.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US is nearing two million, and more than 112,000 Americans have died.