During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have maintained a dual approach to caring for patients:
First, we continued to meet the ongoing needs of patients and the continuity of supply of our lifesaving medicines, consumer health products and medical devices during these challenging times.
Second, we leveraged our resources to accelerate the development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine and screened compounds in discovery and development within our organization to determine whether previously tested medicines can be used to help patients.
Advancing a Vaccine
Vaccines are key to eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic. For years, Johnson & Johnson has invested in building state-of-the-art antiviral and vaccine capabilities, which we have used to develop and manufacture our Ebola vaccine regimen and construct our investigational Zika, RSV and HIV vaccine candidates. We have used these capabilities and facilities to accelerate our efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, moving with the utmost urgency while ensuring quality, compliance and safety protocols are observed. Within a year, we began manufacturing our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.
Timeline of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine Development (through March 31, 2021)
Johnson & Johnson introduced the epidemic mask in 1919 to help contain the Spanish Flu. Thereafter followed notable successes in vaccine technology for diseases such as Ebola, Zika and HIV, creating a strong foundation for the development of a vaccine that is effective in containing COVID-19.
Our vaccine program leverages Janssen’s ADVAC technology that was used in the development of our investigational Ebola vaccine, which is currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and also used to construct our investigational Zika, RSV and HIV vaccine candidates.
Together with BARDA, we committed to invest more than $1 billion to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing.
This new advocacy and communications initiative aims to advocate for policy changes and increased resources to ensure countries are better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to future pandemic threats.
The pledge, signed by Johnson & Johnson’s CEO and CEOs of eight major biopharma companies, outlines a united commitment to uphold the integrity of the scientific process as we all worked toward potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines.
We will provide up to 500 million doses of our COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 and 2022 under our Agreement in Principle with The Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the leading multilateral organization responsible for equitable access to vaccines and coordination of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, including to lower-income countries, via the COVAX Facility.
To learn more about our COVID-19 vaccine, see the Product Fact Sheet.
See our COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet.
Read the full details of each of these milestone events in our vaccine development in our COVID-19 Media Center.
The Road to a Vaccine
We are harnessing our deep scientific expertise, collaborations and global reach to keep the public informed on the latest scientific developments relating to COVID-19 and vaccines. We raised the bar for transparency with the introduction of The Road to a Vaccine, an educational video series hosted by Lisa Ling, which examines the latest efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and breaks down the complex process of developing a vaccine. The series also shares the latest developments on the work underway by many to bring access to a vaccine to billions around the world.
Additional considerations and initiatives in our COVID-19 vaccine program included:
Resourcing for quality during COVID-19: We joined our peer companies in signing a historic pledge to uphold the integrity of the scientific and manufacturing processes in developing an investigational COVID-19 vaccine. And, at Johnson & Johnson, we continue to ensure all aspects of our COVID-19 vaccine development program meet our safety and quality standards. This included:
- Dedicating employees with deep expertise in infectious disease and vaccines to focus solely on vaccine development;
- Appointing a senior Quality Leader to serve in a newly created role focused on the execution of vaccine development, manufacturing, storage and distribution;
- Creating a new website to enable customer access to product information and up-to-date expiry date of COVID-19 vaccines under EUA EUA Emergency Use Authorization ; and
- Supporting our manufacturing collaborators with on-site personnel and expertise in quality, safety, manufacturing technical operations and compliance.
Quality and compliance in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine: We maintain a strong focus on quality, compliance and excellence in our COVID-19 vaccine program through a dedicated Quality & Compliance team to ensure compliance readiness at all levels; collaborating with regulatory agencies including the FDA FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration and EMA EMA European Medicines Agency , and enlisting an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) made up of clinical research experts, physicians, and statisticians to monitor safety data and clinical trial progress.
We are committed to our high-quality, safety and ethical standards each and every day, and the quality of our investigational vaccine candidate is no different; we will never compromise quality and safety for speed.
Commitment to safety in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials: We set up an independent, external expert Safety Advisory Board for advice on post-authorization safety planning through our COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial program. We have partnered with external independent safety panels, health authorities, institutional review boards and cross-industry consortia. We have also published our statistical approaches and clinical trial protocols, an unprecedented step in our commitment to transparency throughout clinical development. Further, we are collaborating with other companies developing COVID-19 vaccines to enable the sharing of and access to datasets relevant to vaccine safety surveillance and the development of a registry to monitor vaccine safety in pregnancy.
Assuring cyber protection for vaccine development: Our Information Security & Risk Management (ISRM) team launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Cybersecurity Program, dedicated to the security of our vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution. The program included targeted protection for key personnel or those with a public or media presence, detection and response activities, securing collaboration methods with internal and external partners, raising user awareness of secure methods for data sharing, enhancing security measures through focused security monitoring, conducting security assessments of critical partners and vendors, and deploying advanced threat detection and protection capabilities. We also collaborated with government agencies, industry groups, and key partners to share threat intelligence. See also our Positions on Information Security and Data Privacy.
Diverse representation in COVID-19 vaccine trials: As part of our commitment to the communities most impacted by COVID-19, we have ensured a diverse and representative group of study volunteers in our vaccine clinical trials. Such representation helps us learn how differences like age, race and ethnicity may impact the efficacy and safety of our vaccine candidate. The ENSEMBLE Phase 3 clinical trial for our single-dose COVID-19 vaccine enrolled approximately 45,000 participants from eight countries, with volunteers representing age and ethnic/racial diversity.
Approximately 45,000 enrolled participants globally across eight countries
Leveraging real-world data to support COVID-19 vaccine development: Our teams from Epidemiology, Research & Development, Data Sciences, Global Clinical Organization and scientists across the United States collaborated to analyze data to predict the optimal locations for our vaccine trials, enabling enrollment of people with a higher likelihood of developing COVID-19, thereby enhancing the design of the clinical trials for our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. This data-driven prioritization of participants at high risk of symptomatic infection based on demographics, occupation, and/or underlying health conditions involved extensive collaboration with leaders from local healthcare systems in different regions. Our Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO OCMO The Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer ) team also co-led the COVID19 Rapid Collaboration Call with the European Health Data & Evidence Network (EHDEN) in spring 2020 to provide financial and technical support for harmonizing data to the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) common data model, to help facilitate more rapid open science on COVID-19.
Solving critical COVID-19 questions with health data science: In March 2020, Johnson & Johnson co-led the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) four-day Virtual Study-A-Thon to generate immediate RWE RWE Real-world evidence on prioritized questions shared by national governments and other healthcare organizations and design COVID-19-specific studies that can be validated when such data are available. Eighty-eight hours of collaboration between more than 350 participants from 30 countries resulted in innovative studies aimed to generate new findings to aid decision-making in response to the pandemic. The studies were published in The Lancet Rheumatology, Nature Communications and The Lancet Digital Health.
Partnering to accelerate response to health threats: We announced the first companies to participate in BLUE KNIGHT™, our joint initiative with BARDA BARDA Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . This joint initiative aims to stimulate innovation and incubation of technologies that improve health security and response through companies focused on public health threats and emerging infectious diseases. Blue Knight companies continue to be selected on a rolling basis and include those working to fill gaps in the current set of potential COVID-19 solutions, as well as solutions for future health threats.
Because we never stopped putting the world's most vulnerable and underserved populations at the heart of everything we do, we have never been in a better position to secure their health.
Helping Eradicate Health Inequities
While developing a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 has been a major focus since the start of the pandemic, we have placed equal importance on addressing the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on ethnically diverse communities. Through Our Race to Health Equity initiative, we seek to help eradicate health inequities for people of color, many of which have emerged or been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
We are working directly with many branches of government and partnering with advocates, NGOs and leadership bodies like the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to lend our voice and expertise to improving health outcomes in Black communities. In 2020, we supported as a title sponsor CBCF's “Policy for the People” webinar series with experts, prominent thought leaders and CBC members, debating issues of public policy related to COVID-19. In February 2021, we partnered with CBCF to deliver the 2021 Health Equity Summit addressing the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on the Black community and mental health realities for Black America.
Advocating for health equity: In the context of the AIDS 2020 conference, Macaya Douoguih, Head, Janssen Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Vaccines, published an open letter on systemic racism and health disparities, in which she urged all to understand that COVID-19 causes substantially more morbidity and mortality in underserved, underrepresented populations and that more must be done to drive equity in our global approach to managing through the pandemic.
Dr. Douoguih noted: No single organization can solve the full range of these challenges. However, together as a community we must step up and act. At Johnson & Johnson, our actions are focused in three areas that we believe are essential to drive change:
- Strengthening data and insights on COVID-19 health disparities;
- Driving health education and awareness, to accelerate the development of solutions and strategies to address health disparities; and
- Supporting community leaders and frontline health workers with the resources they need to improve the health and vitality of underserved communities.
Promoting Black maternal health: In 2020, our Health of Women team within OCMO OCMO The Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer prioritized two maternal health issues: understanding COVID-19 in pregnancy and addressing the Black maternal health crisis in the United States. Colleagues from Health of Women introduced a “No Patient Safety Without Equity” campaign to educate women about the relationship between COVID-19 and maternal health. They worked with our Worldwide Government Affairs & Policy team and other partners to advocate for key pieces of legislation, including the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 in Congress and extending Medicaid’s postpartum insurance coverage for pregnant women from an arbitrary 60-day period to the 12 months following birth.
Addressing Patient Needs
Our initiatives addressing broader patient needs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic include providing tools to help people through the pandemic, developing solutions to health issues exacerbated by COVID-19, and securing the availability of urgent equipment and products. Examples are:
Leveraging our innovation platforms: In May 2020, Johnson & Johnson GPH GPH Global Public Health and JLABS JLABS Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS together launched the DR-TB Lifeline QuickFire Challenge, a hackathon-style initiative aimed at finding creative, community-based solutions to help ensure continuity of care for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) patients in high-burden countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These solutions will be critical in addressing the serious disruptions in DR-TB care caused by COVID-19, which has weakened already-fragile health systems. Infrastructure typically used to diagnose and provide in-patient care for DR-TB patients has been reallocated to the fight against COVID-19. Lockdowns have made it difficult for DR-TB patients to access face-to-face care, putting efforts to ensure treatment adherence and prevent the development of drug resistance at risk. The five winning innovators received grant funding from a total of $250,000 and the opportunity to engage with experts from Johnson & Johnson to help bring their ideas to life.
Engaging nurses in COVID-19 innovation: The Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge Series invites nurses worldwide to develop and share novel treatment approaches that have the power to profoundly change human health. Nurse innovators with the best ideas receive up to $100,000 in grant funding, access to mentoring from Johnson & Johnson and access to our JLABS JLABS Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS ecosystem to help bring their ideas to life. In 2020, we launched two challenges directly related to COVID-19, one relating to COVID-19 patient care, and one relating to mental health. Both challenges received hundreds of submissions. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson partnered with SONSIEL, Microsoft and dev up to launch the NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon series to encourage nurses and technology specialists to find tech-based solutions for the most pressing COVID-19 healthcare challenges. More than 500 hackers joined the first NurseHack4Health event in May 2020 and over 650 participated in the second event in November 2020. View the video:
00:08 New health challenges are arising every day,
00:11 and as rates continue to rise, there is such a need for solutions
00:15 that can address these challenges and we need them yesterday.
00:19 We believe in everything that you're going to develop. So congratulations!
00:22 Kicking off November 2020 Nurse Hack For Health!
00:26 As we watch nurses truly living their mission in the year of the nurse,
00:29 we believe a platform like Nurse Hack For Health is more crucial than ever.
00:33 Over 400 hackers from around the world comprised of
00:36 nurses, computer scientists, engineers and other innovators
00:40 to collaborate on creating new tech-based solutions,
00:42 focused on COVID-19 communication and educational challenges that we're seeing today.
00:47 I was inspired to see over 15 potential solutions from participants
00:52 that each had their own motivation for logging on.
00:55 The world has been taken by surprise, maybe by the intensity of this pandemic.
01:02 We really need to think outside the box.
01:05 I hack because nurses have the most experience with workarounds.
01:10 That is what we do the best.
01:12 My initial vision, I thought, was just to have an app for nursing education.
01:16 I felt that especially in this time where we need to have accurate, reliable information.
01:22 I wanted to have this app in place to provide something
01:26 like that for nurses and it just kind of went from there..
01:31 With COVID, the key is innovation.
01:32 You know, we are in - and the nurses and the clinicians - they're in it every day
01:37 and whatever solution, it's going to help them immediately.
01:40 Nurses are rarely given an opportunity to share their expertize and experiences.
01:44 And that's why we're so proud that our Nurse Hack For Health series
01:46 will continue to provide a platform to elevate ideas
01:49 led by nurses that can address this health crisis and other health challenges.
01:53 We look forward to seeing you at the next Nurse Hack For Health.
Doubling access to ventilators: In March 2020, Ethicon, a part of JJMDC JJMDC Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Company , and Prisma Health collaborated to deliver an urgently needed ventilator expansion device called the VESper™ Ventilator Expansion Splitter. VESper was authorized by the FDA FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, allowing a single ventilator to be fitted with the Ventilator Splitter to enable two rescuable COVID-19 patients to receive ventilatory support until individual ventilators could be made available. The innovative collaboration used 3D printing technology to bring the splitter rapidly from prototype to launch in just 10 days. Leveraging our key supplier relationships, we manufactured and distributed thousands of VESper units at no cost to healthcare providers in the United States. In March 2021, Johnson & Johnson earned a Gartner, Inc. Power of the Profession Award in the category of “Customer or Patient Innovation of the Year” recognizing VESper’s contribution.
Helping patients prioritize healthcare: Following a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Johnson & Johnson,3 in which it was found that 68% of Americans said they or someone in their household delayed or canceled healthcare services due to COVID-19, JJMDC JJMDC Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies introduced My Health Can’t Wait, a public information and resource hub, aimed to inspire people to prioritize their health and reach out to their healthcare professionals about deferred care. My Health Can’t Wait offers resources for patients and for healthcare professionals, including personal stories of patients facing different health challenges during the pandemic.
Meeting demand for consumer health products: As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, Consumer Health responded to support nurses, hospitals and local community organizations; convert manufacturing lines to produce hand sanitizer; and increase production of high-demand products to meet the needs of consumers everywhere.
Adding hand sanitizer availability: Given the spike in demand for hand sanitizer with the outbreak of COVID-19, our China Consumer Health team rapidly led the development and launch of BAND-AID® Isopropyl Alcohol (BIPA) hand sanitizer for Chinese consumers, increasing local production capacity by a third while increasing the alcohol concentration from 60% to 70% for increased efficacy. Completing regulatory licensing approval and new bottle designs, the team launched in a record two months, with a target annual volume of two million units. The manufacturing technology for BIPA has now been introduced at our facilities in Thailand to enable further access in Southeast Asia. Similarly, our LISTERINE manufacturing facility in the United States switched several lines from making mouthwash to producing hand sanitizer for distribution to our employees and health and community service workers on the front lines of care. To date, we have donated hundreds of thousands of bottles to frontline workers in communities most impacted by COVID-19.
Minimizing COVID-19 risks from tobacco use: In 2020, a new Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco (AIQT) was launched by the World Health Organization, aimed at helping the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users stop smoking through improved access to smoking cessation services and medicines such as nicotine replacement therapy. This program became an even more urgent priority given the higher likelihood of smokers to have severe outcomes from COVID-19 than non-smokers. To support this effort, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health donated nearly 380,000 NICORETTE InvisiPatch nicotine patches to treat 5,400 people in Jordan, supporting the Jordanian Ministry of Health in its comprehensive AIQT smoking cessation programs.
Contributing to eye health: As part of ongoing initiatives to help support eye care in the wake of COVID-19, Johnson & Johnson Vision, part of JJMDC JJMDC Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies and a global leader in eye health, made a donation of $320,000 to Optometry Cares – The American Optometric Association (AOA) Foundation and the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. As we are an AOA Recovery Partner, our donation provides financial support to practitioners uniquely impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the Johnson & Johnson Vision team responded to requests for disposable contact lenses for medical workers in Wuhan, due to problems wearing eyeglasses under newly required safety goggles. Within eight days, the team packed off a shipment of 1,364 1-DAY ACUVUE TRUEYE packs along with hand cream and LISTERINE.
Supporting Local Communities
Alongside broader support we provided to healthcare professionals, nurses and caregivers, (see the section Supporting the Front Lines of Care), Johnson & Johnson made several meaningful contributions in our communities, for example:
Resources for medical professionals: We created the COVID-19 Resources Center to help meet the immediate and pressing needs of surgeons and other healthcare professionals. The Center is powered by dialogEDU and was created by our Johnson & Johnson Institute in collaboration with the Advances in Surgery (AIS) Channel. More than 30,000 healthcare professionals viewed the AIS resources the first day they became available.
Helping healthcare providers with online care: Building on our established HealtheVoices online patient advocate platform, we launched HealtheVoices for healthcare providers in partnership with an advisory board of healthcare experts. Through this new platform, we delivered virtual sessions to guide care providers of all specialties in topics such as using social media to build a supportive community, practicing self-care, elevating issues of health inequities and continuing to reach and provide care for patients online.
Improving tools for patient outreach in Africa: Johnson & Johnson supported repurposing patient outreach tools to help local health workers provide real-time support as part of an intensified COVID-19 response. In Uganda, our mobile health (mHealth) platform, CONNECT FOR LIFE, originally introduced to help encourage adherence to ARV therapy among people living with HIV, is now being used to make automated phone calls to individuals quarantined because of COVID-19. In Zimbabwe, a local youth-led organization, Youth Advocates Zimbabwe, leveraged its Youth Helpline to disseminate messaging on COVID-19 to thousands of recipients and respond to calls regarding COVID-19. The Youth Helpline was developed as part of the DREAMS Partnership that supports young women with and at risk of HIV infection. Johnson & Johnson is an anchor partner of the DREAMS Partnership which is also supported by PEPFAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare.
Caring for caregivers: BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages and Care® partnered to deliver “CARE Packages” including meals, personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical healthcare and delivery services to caregivers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages donated $100,000 to Care® and encouraged consumers to send care packages to support frontline heroes and caregivers around the world for 100 days, aligning with the 100th anniversary of BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages.
Donating PPE: While not a manufacturer of PPE, Johnson & Johnson donated significant quantities of PPE, hand sanitizer and other needed support to local communities, including healthcare workers around the world. For example, in the initial period of the pandemic, we donated over $3.7 million (20 million yuan) in PPE for frontline health workers in China, one million masks, 100,000 protective suits and 100,000 pairs of goggles.