New Delhi: As drugmakers race to develop a shot for Coronavirus, Johnson & Johnson would start human trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the second half of July, two months earlier than planned, the company said on Wednesday.  It must be noted that as of now there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus that has killed more than 400,000 people globally. Also Read - Coronavirus: Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi Tests Positive, Says Will Continue to Work From Home

The company has already signed deals with the US government to create enough manufacturing capacity to produce more than 1 billion doses of its vaccine through 2021. Also Read - In Bengaluru, COVID Patient's Body Lays on Road For 4 Hours; 'Communication Gap,' Says BBMP

J&J’s study will test the vaccine against a placebo and assess the shot’s safety and immune response in 1,045 healthy people aged 18 to 55 years, as well as those 65 years and older. The trial will take place in the United States and Belgium. Also Read - Unlock 2 in Jammu and Kashmir: Shopping Malls Can Reopen, Movement of Individuals For Non-essential Activities Remains Prohibited

US biotech Moderna Inc is at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development and has started testing its candidate in a mid-stage trial that will enroll 600 patients. The company expects to begin late-stage trials in July.

AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are all at various stages of development of their vaccine candidates.

There are currently about 10 coronavirus vaccines being tested in humans and experts have predicted that a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months from the start of development.

(With agency inputs)