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Our goal is to save lives with Ebola vaccine: J&J Exec

With the death toll in the recent Ebola outbreak topping 1,800 in West Africa, Johnson & Johnson has decided to fast track its "promising" Ebola vaccine, Joaquin Duato, worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals at the company, told CNBC on Thursday.

J&J has been working on a preventative vaccine since 2008, he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"Given the emergency situation, we have stepped up our collaborations to be able to initiate clinical trials in humans by 2015," Duato said.

Ebola experts are gathering in Switzerland on Thursday and Friday to discuss potential therapies and vaccines for the deadly disease. The World Health Organization, which is sponsoring the event, said there have been more than 3,700 probable, confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in West Africa, and almost 1,850 deaths.

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"This is a humanitarian tragedy which is affecting a large area that we need to address as an industry," Duato said. "Our goal here is to help to collaborate in eradicating deadly diseases like Ebola. Our goal is to help save lives."

He said that although the vaccine development and testing process will be sped up, safety will not be compromised.

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J&J will be working with its partners, the National Institutes of Health and regulators "to make sure that we develop a safe and effective vaccine," Duato said.

—By CNBC's Michelle Fox

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