As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been given the green light by the U.S. FDA for emergency use. This will be the first single shot vaccine released to fight COVID-19. As early as Tuesday morning, 3.9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to states, tribes, territories, pharmacies, and community health centers. While the vaccine will be limited at first, Johnson & Johnson expects to increase production within the coming months. By the end of March, we should see an additional 16 million doses distributed. The company is committed to delivering 100 million doses by June and “up to a billion” by the end of 2021. Since their vaccine is one dose that will equate to as many people being treated as vaccinations.
Just as March 2020 was an important chapter in the start of the pandemic, one year later, March 2021 is showing to be just as important. The CDC has predicted that B.1.1.7, the highly contagious variant first detected in the UK will now be the dominant strain in the US. The B.1.351 strain first discovered in South Africa has the most worrying effects on the ability of vaccines to create an immune response. Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech, are making efforts to get their vaccines ahead of the variants. Booster shots are being created to help stave off the B.1.351 strain of the virus. The Johnson & Johnson shot was 64% effective in South Africa, where all the local illnesses were caused by the B.1.351 strain. These shots would be for people who have already been vaccinated, and as the primary vaccination of those who have not been vaccinated yet.
What the Johnson & Johnson vaccine looks like compared to others:
- One single dose, safe and likely does not require any down time or rest.
- 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 all together and 85% effective at preventing severe cases when given four weeks to take effect.
- Evidence provides that it helps stop people from spreading the virus asymptomatically.
- May not eliminate the virus completely but makes getting COVID-19 tolerable with much milder symptoms.
- Remains stable for two years at -4 degrees Fahrenheit, and a maximum of three months at routine refrigeration at temperatures of 36-42 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although the efficacy rates are lower for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is said that comparing the efficacy rates of different vaccine trials conducted at different times is like comparing apples to oranges. Dr. Anthony Fauci, along with other experts have said they would just get whichever shot they could get. With herd immunity being the goal of the vaccinations, many more need the vaccine to achieve this goal. But with “up to a billion” by the end of 2021 from Johnson & Johnson, plus additional from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, we may be on our way.