Johnson & Johnson chief scientist predicts 'significant numbers' of COVID-19 vaccines 'early next year'

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Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels told "Bill Hemmer Reports" Wednesday that he is seeing promising signs that a coronavirus vaccine will be developed in the near future.

"To me, it is not about the competition," Stoffels told host Bill Hemmer. "The world probably needs between five and seven billion vaccines, so it’s best that several companies get there.

"But positive information is good [for] hope that we can get there sooner or later. And it might be with a few months' difference, but I think that early next year we will have significant numbers of vaccines which could help the world to start to get rid of COVID-19."

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Stoffels then discussed the process of testing a vaccine candidate, in which a piece of DNA or RNA is injected into a human in the hope that it causes the body to produce antigens, starting a process that scientists hope will inhibit the virus.

"Then [it] gets to the antibodies, and then to immunogenicity and protection," he said.

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"So if there is a positive study showing that these antigens are being generated and neutralizing antibodies, then it is positive for all of the vaccines," continued Stoffels, who added that he is seeing some promise in recent tests on animals.

"Today, we published two science papers validating, first, the animal model we've been using, and second, the first DNA prototype constructs which have been used to elicit immunogenicity," he said.

"We also can confirm the animal models confirm data that we can protect animals from COVID, or at least mitigate the disease in animal models."