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Johnson & Johnson this week said it could obtain late-stage trial results for a single dose vaccine in January, earlier than expected but it is cutting the size of its pivotal US Covid-19 vaccine trial — the only major study testing a single dose of a Covid vaccine — from 60,000 volunteers to 40,000 volunteers.

STAT reports that ”the change is being made possible by the fact that Covid-19 is so pervasive across the country, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

”The more virus there is in the US, the more likely it is that participants will be exposed to it, meaning researchers will be able to reach conclusions based on a smaller trial.”

”Changing the size of the study does not indicate that results will come on a different timetable or anything about whether they will be positive or negative.”

The company started phase 3 trials in September and expects to file for emergency approval by early 2021 if the vaccine is safe and effective.

While rivals Pfizer and Moderna’s 2 dose vaccines will have a head start, given that they have completed phase 3 trials with exceptionally strong results and are likely to start shipping their vaccines in the coming weeks, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose candidate remains promising.

Another promising feature of the J&Js vaccine is the fact that the vaccine is expected to remain stable for at least three months at refrigerator-like temperatures, unlike some other vaccines (such as Pfizer’s) that need specialized freezers.

Market implications

Meanwhile, Global equity indexes fell on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 is down nearly 1% at the time of writing as negotiations for further fiscal stimulus dragged on, while sterling inched up after recent weakness.

Investors have been awaiting news on further US economic relief as the coronavirus pandemic continued to take its toll on the economy.

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on a one-week stopgap funding bill that will buy more time to reach a deal on COVID-19 relief, with separate aid packages of more than $900 billion on the table.