A new weapon in the fight against COVID-19 is on the way.
Friday (Jan.29), Johnson & Johnson shared some very promising news about its COVID-19 vaccine announcing that it prevents 85 percent of severe cases of the disease and “72% Effective in the US and 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, 28 Days after vaccination.” The most significant detail is that unlike Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires a single shot compared to two and doesn’t require it to be stored in extreme cold freezers.
Also, unlike Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccine, which takes a genetic sample of the virus and inserts it into an oily bubble, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses a gene from a snippet of the coronavirus and inserts it inside a weakened form of an adenovirus which causes symptoms like diarrhea or pink eye.
Speaking with CNN following the announcement, Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at Johnson and Johnson, told the news network:
“We’re 85 perfect effective at preventing severe disease, which we define as disease that makes you feel particularly sick at home, or may go to the hospital, or worse.”
Johnson & Johnson is planning to file for emergency use authorization of its vaccine with the FDA next week.
But there are some caveats. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine’s 72% efficacy rating isn’t as high as Moderna’s 94.1% or Pfizer/ BioNTech’s 95% rating, but it still far exceeds the FDA’s 50% efficacy benchmark it set for any potential COVID-19 vaccines. There is also the growing concern about the mutant strains of COVID-19 that are emerging and if the vaccine will effectively work against them.
Scientists are well aware of the issue and are already testing to see if booster shots will be necessary to help combat the new strains. Dr.Fauci has already expressed confidence that the COVID-19 vaccines could be tweaked to battle the new variants.
In South Africa, where a variant called B.1.351 is proving to be quite worrisome, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 57 percent effective, just barely meeting the FDA’s strict requirement. Earlier this week, pharmaceutical company Novavax revealed its vaccine was “less effective” against the South African strain of COVID-19. This news comes as the United States reported its first two cases of the coronavirus variant despite President Joe Biden’s swift action banning all travel from the country.
Still, scientists are hopeful Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will help significantly in the race against time to get shots in arms to slow down the spread and other mutations from happening. Since the Biden Administration has taken over the vaccine effort, things have picked up a bit. Still, there are some rather large hurdles to meet the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine across the country, combined with the looming issue of vaccine hesitancy among African Americans.
As of today, over 26 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far in the US. We are still nowhere near President Biden’s pledge of meeting 100,000,000 million doses given.
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