Just last week, the official Food and Drug Administration of the United States reported their approval for “Johnson & Johnson”‘s new COVID-19 vaccine. Following the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the new one would be the third federal-issued vaccine, only to be used for emergency purposes.
As of February 27, Johnson & Johnson reported that they planned to distribute approximately 4 million doses in the following week to hospitals, pharmacies, and centers across the nation. Currently, they are in the process of manufacturing the vaccines for their plan of supplying 100 million doses by July 2021. Johnson & Johnson is working collaboratively with U.S. officials to speed up production.
Unlike its two predecessors, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires only one dose, raising the question of efficiency over quality. As of now, the vaccine is said to be used for emergency use; however, health officials are pushing citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine “makes it operationally easier in lots of contexts” and that she “expects lots of considerations state health departments are having around these vaccines is more about the ease of use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and how it might be better suited for some populations”. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
With the new B.1.351 strain raising concerns, it has been reported to lower the effectiveness of current vaccines, both the Moderna and Pfizer along with others in development.
Johnson & Johnson shared their COVID-19 vaccine data on February 4th. The data showed variation in different regions across the world, a result of the physical community and the variants spread around. The vaccine showed 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America, and 57% in South Africa, averaging at 66% effectiveness. Though Pfizer’s vaccine reported a notable 95% effectiveness rate and Moderna showed 94%, Johnson & Johnson said their vaccine had prevented 100% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths. With these numbers, the FDA approved the vaccine due to the fact it surpassed the 50% effective rate minimum.
The FDA reported the vaccine was currently only available for people of 18 years or older as they continue to wait for the mandatory six month report needed for vaccine approvals.
A professor at UMKC School of Medicine, Dr. Jay Portnoy, said “we need to get this vaccine out now. We are in a hurry.”