On Saturday (February 27), the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, the third to receive such approval in the US, and the first to require just a single injection.
According to the Associated Press, 4 million doses of the vaccine are expected to reach states by tomorrow (March 2). Johnson & Johnson plans to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June.
The authorization comes after the company announced Phase 3 trials results showing that the vaccine is about 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease at 28 days after vaccination.
Although Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is less effective than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s versions were in clinical trials, experts emphasize that it still provides strong protection against COVID-19.
“Don’t get caught up, necessarily, on the number game, because it’s a really good vaccine, and what we need is as many good vaccines as possible,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, tells The New York Times.
The vaccine requires only a single dose and is stable at refrigerator temperatures, two features that could simplify its rollout compared to Moderna’s and Pfizer’s two-dose versions that require subzero storage. Unlike the mRNA-based vaccines that preceded it in authorization, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses a weakened version of an adenovirus that carries a piece of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic code.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is currently approved for people aged over 18 years, and the company will soon begin trials in children between 12 and 18 years old, according to The New York Times. Future trials will also include younger children, newborns, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people, the Times reports.