The US authorised Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine dose for Covid-19 as an emergency vaccine to ensure a speedy vaccination drive, the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Saturday, reported Associated Press.
The one-shot vaccine has proven to be highly effective against the virus and its new strains offering strong protection against serious illness, hospitalisation, and death, the FDA said before greenlighting the dose. This is as per a study spanning three continents including South Africa, where the vaccine proved 85% protective against Covid-19.
“This is really good news,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told Associated Press on Saturday. “The most important thing we can do right now is to get as many shots in as many arms as we can,” he added.
The US has access to two vaccines- Pfizer and Moderna. The third vaccine will start to roll out millions of doses and shipments by Monday.
It is expected to deliver 20 million doses by March and a 100 million by the end of summer, eyeing 1 billion doses by the end of 2021 as it seeks authorisation for emergency use in Europe as well.
US President Joe Biden hailed it as an “encouraging development” and urged citizens to continue wearing masks and taking precautions.
In large clinical trials, the J&J vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease was 85.9% in the US, 81.7% in South Africa, and 87.6% in Brazil, reported NDTV.
However, the efficacy levels dropped to 66% in terms of moderate cases. Pfizer and Moderna, on the other hand, gave a 95% efficiency rate against symptomatic cases.
The Associated Press reported that local health officials are looking to use the Johnson & Johnson’s option in mobile vaccination clinics, homeless shelters, even with sailors who are spending months on fishing vessels — communities where it is hard to be sure if someone will come back in three to four weeks for a second vaccination.
This vaccine also is easier to handle, lasting three months in the refrigerator compared to the Pfizer and Moderna options, which must be frozen.
While the FDA’s fact sheet reports a remote chance of recipients developing an allergic reaction to this vaccine, it has maintained that studies show no serious side effects, and thus, has been authorised for emergency use on adults aged 18 years.
India will move into the next part of its Phase III trials of the vaccination drive from Monday, that began on January 16.