Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) with just one shot – not as strong as some two-shot rivals but still potentially helpful for a world in dire need of more doses.
J&J said Friday that in the US and seven other countries, the single-shot vaccine was 66-percent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness, and much more protective — 85 percent — against the most serious symptoms.
There was some geographic variation. The vaccine worked better in the US — 72-percent effective against moderate to severe Covid-19 – compared to 57% in South Africa, where it was up against an easier-to-spread mutated virus.
“Gambling on one dose was certainly worthwhile,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, global research chief for J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit, said.
The Philippine unit of Janssen Pharmaceutical announced on Friday the conduct of Phase 3 trials of its Covid-19 vaccine in the Philippines.
With vaccinations off to a rocky start globally, experts had been counting on a one-dose vaccine that would stretch scarce supplies and avoid the logistics nightmare of getting people to return for boosters.
But with some other competing vaccines shown to be 95-percent effective after two doses, at question is whether somewhat less protection is an acceptable tradeoff to get more shots in arms quickly.
“Frankly, simple is beautiful,” said Dr. Matt Hepburn of Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s vaccine initiative.
The company said within a week, it will file an application for emergency use in the US, and then abroad. It expects to supply 100 million doses to the US by June — and a billion doses globally by the end of the year. J&J wouldn’t say exactly how much could be ready to ship as soon as US authorities give the green light. SOVEREIGNPH