With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout now officially underway, the U.S. is closing in on 50 million doses, with more than 80 million doses administered globally. And while those may sound like big numbers, it is important to keep in mind that these figures are based on two-dose vaccines. In other words, a single-dose vaccine could meaningfully accelerate the immunization process.
The third COVID-19 vaccination to enter the fray, J&J has just released its phase 3 clinical trial results and will now begin the process of applying for emergency use authorization (EAU) with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the U.S. already ordered 100 million doses, which J&J believes it can deliver by June.
How J&J measures up
Aside from what will be the first COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in a single-dose, the J&J vaccine is most similar to Pfizer and Moderna in that they all are highly effective. In its global Phase 3 trials, the J&J vaccine has shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease and 85% effective overall at preventing hospitalization and death. Also, those who developed moderate cases of COVID-19 in the trial tended to develop a milder course and fewer symptoms.
While these results trail those reported for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, the efficacy of the J&J vaccine is still promising according to health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said, “If this had occurred in the absence of a prior announcement and implementation of a 94, 95% efficacy [vaccine], one would have said this is an absolutely spectacular result.”
Similar to Moderna, the J&J vaccine remains stable at regular refrigerated temperatures (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 3 months, making it relatively easy to store. This type of accessible storage conditions will help make the J&J vaccine a favorite of local healthcare facilities, such as pharmacies and doctor’s offices, which is often absent the specialty equipment needed to store the Pfizer vaccine.
While the J&J vaccine shares some similarities with its Pfizer and Moderna peers, there are a few key differences – most notably in the science used to develop it.
Borrowing from technology used to create the Ebola vaccine, scientists were able to alter a common cold virus known as an adenovirus, which they sent into human cells. Once inside, the altered and weakened adenovirus is unable to replicate – key in preventing people from getting sick – and instead delivers instructions for making the infamous coronavirus spike protein, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to attach to cells. The body’s immune system then reacts to the spike protein pieces, ultimately resulting in protection.
This adenovirus-based science is not only effective from an immunization perspective, but it is also cost-effective, allowing J&J to manufacture the vaccine for far less than the Messenger RNA (mRNA)-based Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. In fact, at an estimated $10 per dose, it costs about half as much as the Pfizer vaccine.
PrescribeWellness COVID-19 vaccination resource center
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