The awaited Johnson and Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has finally been authorized and will begin rolling out next week. This is the third vaccine to be approved in the US, and unlike its predecessors, it only requires one dose.
An estimated 4 million doses of this newly authorized vaccine will be made available next week, about 20 million total in March, and another 80 million by June end.
Since this vaccine only requires one dose, authorities are optimistic that it will become effective faster than the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, immunizing nearly 100 million Americans. The latter two vaccines have already been administered to around 50 million people since being authorized at the end of 2020.
Just last Friday the FDA Advisory Committee voted for the J&J’s vaccine, pointing out that its advantages far exceeded its risks.FDA acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock stated,
“The FDA, through our open and transparent scientific review process, has now authorized three COVID-19 vaccines with the urgency called for during this pandemic, using the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”
After the voting process, several committee members shared that all three approved vaccines are just as safe and effective. However, as expected, the three vaccines are being compared, especially with reference to their efficacy rates. While Moderna and Pfizer are 95% and 94% effective, respectively, J&J’s is only 66% effective.
When asked about the varying efficacy rates of the three vaccines, leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci explained,
"They (the three vaccines) were compared under different circumstances. All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that's most available to them."
He then added,
"If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that's the one that's available now, I would take it. I personally would do the same thing. I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. And if I would go to a place where they had J&J, I would have no hesitancy whatsoever to take it."
Health officials uphold that the efficacy rates of the three vaccines cannot be fairly compared since their trials weren’t conducted at the same time or on the same people.
It is, however, interesting to note that J&J’s proved to be 72% effective among American participants while proving much less effective in Latin America and South Africa, where the more contagious variants have been circulating.