Washington, September 23: Johnson & Johnson, the US-based pharmaceutical and medical device company, took a major stride in its COVID-19 vaccine development process by launching the final phase trials on Wednesday. In the third and last round of the clinical test, around 60,000 volunteers have been enrolled by J&J. COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Pfizer Candidate May be First to Win Approval in US, Suggests Donald Trump.

The vast volunteer size is expected to increase the credibility of the test results. The organisation's chief scientific officer, Dr Paul Stoffels, told reporters in a joint conference that the trial outcome could be out by end of this year or early 2021.

Unlike the three top vaccine contenders - AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer - who are using a double-shot vaccine, J&J is the only major drugmaker in the US who is testing a single-shot vaccine against coronavirus. This, claim medical experts, allows the company to enroll a large sample size to test for immunity.

The rivals of J&J, on the other hand, need to relatively restrict their volunteer size as the participants are administered with two shots of COVID-19 vaccine - to be taken after a gap of significant number of days.

According to J&J, the company is targeting a 60 percent efficacy of its vaccine. The targeted goal is higher as compared to the guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulator has asked the vaccine makers to ensure their candidates achieve at least 50 percent efficacy.

While J&J is one of the leading candidates in US to come out with an effective COVID-19 vaccine, the company is not expected to emerge as the first. President Donald Trump, while speaking to Fox News this week, said he expects Pfizer to be out with the vaccine at the earliest.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 23, 2020 08:24 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).