The single-dose coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson provides strong protection against severe and fatal cases of COVID-19, according to new analyses by the Food and Drug Administration published this morning.
The analyses, including a clinical trial involving 45,000 people, show that the vaccine is 72 percent effective overall and 86 percent effective against severe cases of COVID in the US. While that's below the efficacy rates of both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it's still effective enough to give defensible protection.
The jab was also shown to be 64 percent effective overall in South Africa, thanks to a new deadlier virus variant spreading in the African nation.
All told, it's good news. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is the third American vaccine to demonstrate effectiveness against the coronavirus. The fact that it's a single-dose vaccine is the cherry on top, as the delivery logistics are much simpler.
It also can be stored in regular fridges, making it much easier to distribute, especially when compared to Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccine, which have to be stored at extremely low temperatures in specialized freezers.
Unfortunately, production of the vaccine will be limited at first, as The New York Times reports. Johnson & Johnson's drug development arm Janssen Pharmaceuticals will only be able to ship four million doses following the FDA's authorization, well below the 12 million it promised earlier.
The company has signed a contract with the White House pledging a total of 100 million doses by the end of June — a substantial proportion of the US population.
The war against COVID is far from over, though. For instance, we still have to find a compelling answer to whether any of the vaccines currently being distributed are able to stop people from spreading the virus to others, or if they only protect the individual from severe illness.
But not all is lost. If current projections are anything to go by, vaccines already are playing a role in a drop in hospitalizations.
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READ MORE: New analyses show Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine works well. [The New York Times]