The FDA and the CDC have both given emergency approval to Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine to receive approval in the United States. Both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center of Disease and Infection Control (CDC) have given it their stamp of approval for all adults aged 18 and above. Thus, making it the first single-dose vaccine to be approved in the US.
More than 14% of the US population have already received the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. However, the limited supplies and delay due to storms have put a strain on the vaccination drive. Therefore, researchers believe approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely help speed up the process and provide protection from emerging variants. The company is expected to ship around 20 million doses of the vaccine to the US by the end of March and then 100 million by June.
J&J vs Other COVID-19 Vaccines
Similar to the Oxford vaccine, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine contains a weakened adenovirus – a common cold virus. This adenovirus is modified to include the genetic instructions for the coronavirus spike protein. Thus, the adenovirus acts as a vector, carrying this viral protein inside the human body. Once the modified virus enters the human body, the body starts producing spike proteins in response to the instructions. The body then recognizes these spike proteins and produces antibodies against them. Thus, eliciting an immune response.
In the last week of January, Johnson & Johnsons released data from its phase 3 trials. The trial included over 43,000 participants and was conducted across eight countries. Although the results showed overall vaccine efficacy of 66%, the vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe disease. Moreover, in the US the vaccine had an overall efficacy of 72%. Thus, making it a viable candidate.
Despite a lower efficacy than Pfizer and Moderna, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a few advantages. Unlike the other currently approved vaccines, J&J remains stable at fridge temperatures for up to 3 months. Thus, making storage and distribution easier. Additionally, a 100% protection against hospitalizations and death makes it a major game-changer.
J&J is currently waiting on receiving approval from the World Health Organization (WHO). A WHO approval will ensure low- and middle-income countries have access to the vaccine at a lower cost.
Media statement from CDC DIRECTOR Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on signing the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation to Use Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 18 and older. (2021, February 28). Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0228-JJ-vaccine.html