Americans will soon have a new vaccine option. Experts at the FDA say that the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine offers good protection. In the US, this single shot immunization was about 86% effective against severe disease and death. That’s good news. The J&J vaccine will be reviewed by the FDA’s advisory committee today. We anticipate it will recommend emergency use authorization (EUA).
Would You Take the New Vaccine?
Some people will read that news about the J&J vaccine and be disappointed. That’s because they have read that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 94% effective against the coronavirus. Why accept something that’s not that good?
Let’s remember that in the early days of the pandemic the FDA was hoping for a vaccine that was just better than 50% effective against COVID-19. Most years the influenza virus is only about 41% effective. We can say that with authority because we have been analyzing flu shot efficacy for years. Here is a link to data going back to 2004-2005.
Public health authorities would be over the moon if an influenza vaccine worked as well as the vaccine from J&J. Most people are happy to get a flu shot even if it is only half as effective as the COVID vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the new vaccine is “nothing but good news.”
Another Expert Weighs In:
Dr. Paul Offit is one of the world’s leading authorities on vaccines. He sits on the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee. He has been a guest on The People’s Pharmacy syndicated public radio show (most recently on Feb. 20, 2021). Dr. Offit told the Associated Press (Feb. 24, 2021) that:
“’This is a vaccine to prevent you from going to the hospital and dying at a level that’s certainly comparable’ to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said.”
Tests in South Africa also suggest that the new vaccine works well against the variant that has become dominant there. The J&J vaccine needs only normal refrigeration so it may be far easier to distribute in rural areas. Best of all, it only requires one shot.
The Bottom Line on the J&J Vaccine:
The key to staying out of the hospital with COVID-19 is vaccination and caution. The sooner you can get a shot the better. The sooner we can reduce the number of COVID cases to a manageable number, the sooner the variants will become less worrisome.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that it may take J&J’s subsidiary Janssen several weeks to ramp up production of the vaccine. At this point they have only a few million doses in inventory. We are hopeful that before the end of April, though, there will be an ample supply of all three vaccines.