On Saturday, the United States authorized the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine for emergency use, giving the nation a third chance to combat the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said before giving it the green light that the one-shot vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including against newer variants.
Acting US regulator said: “Licensing this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, and it is the best medical prevention for Covid-19, to help us fight this epidemic, which has killed more than half a million people in the United States.” Director Janet Woodcock.
In large clinical trials, the effectiveness of the J&J vaccine against severe diseases was 85.9% in the United States, 81.7% in South Africa, and 87.6% in Brazil.
Overall, out of 39,321 participants across all regions, the efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 85.4%, but decreased to 66.1% when moderate forms of the disease were included.
Crucially, analyzes of different demographic groups revealed no observed differences across age, race, or people with underlying conditions.
A third vaccine is seen as a vital way to increase the rate of immunization in the United States, where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives to the Coronavirus.
100 million doses by June
The J&J vaccine is the third to get the green light in the United States after the provisional approval of Pfizer and Moderna in December.
More than 65 million people in America have so far received at least one injection of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine – But unlike these, the J&J vaccine requires only one dose, and is stored at fridge temperatures, providing logistical and practical advantages.
The J&J injection is less protective than the Pfizer and Moderna regimens, both of which have about 95% effectiveness against all forms of Covid-19 from the classic coronavirus strain.
There was a hint, based on the preliminary data, that a vaccine might be effective against asymptomatic infection – Although, J&J said it needs to do more research to confirm this.
The company announced that it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March, of which 100 million by June – Although the United States is pressing to speed up this schedule.
The J&J vaccine uses an adenovirus that causes the common cold, which has been genetically modified so that it cannot reproduce, to transfer the gene for a key protein from the Coronavirus to human cells.