J.ohnson & Johnson announced today (Jan. 29) that its one-shot vaccine is 66 percent effective at preventing moderate and severe COVID-19 and 85 percent effective against serious illness.
“This is a really great result,” says Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University The New York Times. “I hope this vaccine will be approved as soon as possible to reduce the burden of disease worldwide.”
No one who received the shot died of COVID-19, while five people in the placebo group did, according to Reuters. “The key is not just overall effectiveness, but effectiveness against serious illness, hospitalization and death in particular,” Walid Gellad, a doctor who studies health policy at the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters.
While the company’s vaccine is less effective at preventing COVID-19 than its Moderna and Pfizer versions, it still exceeds the US Food and Drug Administration’s 50 percent effectiveness requirement for emergency approval. Unlike competing vaccines, which are given in two doses, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires a single injection.
The one-shot vaccine could be a game changer, says Jonathan Temte, a vaccine expert at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health The Washington Postbecause it could make vaccine distribution easier. In addition, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not need to be stored in temperatures as cold as the Moderna and Pfizer versions.
Interim results of the phase 3 study, which involved more than 40,000 participants in eight countries, showed that vaccination performance varied around the world. In the US, 72 percent of cases were protected from moderate or severe COVID-19, but only 57 percent in South Africa, where a worrying new variant of the virus – B.1.351 – appeared for the first time. Against severe COVID-19, the vaccine retained its 85 percent effectiveness against all variants tested, including B.1.351.
The vaccine “will potentially protect hundreds of millions of people from the serious and fatal consequences of COVID-19. It also offers hope of easing the tremendous burden on health systems and communities, “Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the Executive Committee and chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, said in the announcement.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses deactivated cold viruses to deliver SARS-CoV-2 DNA, while Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines both use messenger RNA technology. The company says it will apply for an emergency permit from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early February and have the cans ready for shipment.