A new, single-dose coronavirus vaccine produced by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson received the thumbs-up from an independent regulatory panel and is set for FDA approval for emergency use.
The coronavirus inoculations from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have already been approved and are currently being distributed in the country.
A panel of experts will meet on Friday to decide whether the new J & J inoculation will be distributed throughout the US.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is highly sought after, as it is one dose and simple storage requirements could speed up dissemination of the shot. The prospective inoculation does not even need to be frozen – it only needs to be kept at normal refrigerator temperatures.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine 66% effective in preventing the virus
An international study of over 40,000 participants, with half receiving a placebo and the other half the real shot, showed that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was 66% effective in preventing against moderate and severe cases of the virus.
Experts argue that the single-dose vaccine may seem to be less worthwhile than its double-dose, more effective competitors, simply due to the way the inoculations are tested.
Currently, each shot undergoes its own testing, oftentimes with different methods, making comparisons between the results less fruitful than analyzing each study independently.
Considering the prevalence of multiple variants of the virus internationally, the company can’t say with certainty how well the vaccine will protect against each mutation.
However, results from the international study show that the vaccine’s efficacy is impacted by location.
In North America, the shot was 72% effective against moderate and severe cases of Covid-19, while in South America and South Africa, it was just 66% and 57% effective, respectively.
Greatly reduces deaths, hospitalizations
While less effective in preventing the virus than other vaccines, such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, that are 95% an 94% effective, respectively, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be integral in reducing Covid-related deaths and hospitalizations.
Of all those who received the vaccine during the trial, not one was hospitalized or died with the virus after becoming inoculated.
This statistic is vital to the country, as it has recorded over 500,000 deaths related to the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Effective with just one dose, the J & J vaccine could help the US rapidly increase its vaccination rates, making President Biden’s lofty goal to vaccinate over 100 million American in his first 100 days in office more achievable.
Additionally, unlike its counterparts, the vaccine does not require specialty freezers for storage, and can be held in normal refrigeration temperatures for up to three months.
Since the vaccine began to circulate in the US, around 44.5 million Americans have received the first dose of the shot from either Pfizer or Moderna, and 20 million have been given both doses.
The shot is a “game-changer”
These qualities make the J & J shot a “game changer,” Dr. Nirav Shah, the prominent epidemiologist who is the head of the Maine Center for Disease Control, stated in a press briefing in early February.
The J & J vaccine “differs in material ways relative to the two candidates that we have right now from Pfizer and Moderna,” Dr. Shah stated.
“Namely, it’s one dose and it’s a lot more portable…If that vaccine is authorized and made available to states in sufficient quantities, it opens up a brand-new front for us,” he declared.
“It means that vaccine can be distributed much more easily, it can be kept outside that frozen environment for a longer period of time and we can focus in on a population” without having to worry about how those individuals will receive a second dose, he explained.
That could mean bringing inoculation to a “brand-new and different population in some respects than the population in the venues we’re using right now. “That’s not a game-changer — it’s a brand new, different game altogether.”
Johnson & Johnson has already promised 4 million doses to the US once the shot is approved for emergency use, and 20 million by the end of March.
The massive company, which specializes in pharmaceuticals and packaged goods, said that 100 million doses of the vaccine will be delivered by late June during congressional testimony on Tuesday.
In order to meet international demands that are soon to come as countries begin to approve the shot, Johnson & Johnson aims to produce nearly one billion doses of vaccine by the end of the year.