There are Pros and Cons to Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson has released the information about their COVID-19 vaccine trial, and the news is mixed. It doesn’t offer quite as strong protection against catching the virus as Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines. But, it does protect against becoming severely ill. It’s easy to store. And it’s affordable.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s effectiveness against the variation of COVID-19 most commonly found here in the U.S. was 72 percent. But, it’s 85 percent effective at preventing people from becoming severely ill if they are infected. And, the company has said that they can supply the U.S. with 100 million doses by June. It is a one-shot vaccine — unlike Moderna and Pfizer. Perhaps most importantly, you only need one injection.

Cutting out the need for a follow-up shot, worrying about running out, or problems scheduling might be worth the lower coverage. “Frankly, simple is beautiful,” said Dr. Matt Hepburn of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s vaccine initiative.

A one-shot vaccine is considered by the World Health Organization to be the best option in pandemic settings,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson. He said it could “potentially protect hundreds of millions of people from serious and fatal outcomes of Covid-19.”

Different countries worldwide are giving many vaccines the “go ahead” according to their own guidelines. We need as many effective vaccines as possible. In this pandemic, we aren’t going to be safe until people are protected around the world, especially as new variants are cropping up. This vaccine is only 57 percent effective against the South African variant. Even then, it still offered 85 percent protection against people becoming severely ill. That’s why it’s important we keep working to develop more options. The more coverage we have against every variant, the more we can do to stop the spread.

A vaccine that is 72 percent effective is actually pretty good. But we’re comparing it to Moderna and Pfizer, which are outstanding. It’s very affordable. And, it can be stored in a regular refrigerator for three months that is far more practical than either Moderna or Pfizer. Without the other two vaccines, we would be cheering. There is some talk about doing research to see if a second shot of the immunization improves coverage. But no study on that is in the works.

Its affordability and storability may make it attractive to developing nations. But, as the U.S. is facing shortages of the two vaccines we’ve approved, the Johnson & Johnson version may soon be approved here as well.

The company has applied for emergency use approval (EUA). Pfizer’s vaccine received EUA in a little over three weeks, Moderna was approved after two weeks. Right now, none of us can afford to be picky. Areas are just getting the vaccines they are being sent with no say in the matter. When you sign up for the vaccine and go to your vaccination spot, you won’t be given a variety to choose from. The fact is, any coverage is better than none. And people are being reminded that, even after being vaccinated, they should continue to wear masks, maintain social distance and wash their hands. No vaccine is perfect, and no study has proven that vaccinated people can’t pass on the virus while remaining healthy themselves.

Banner image: Karolina Grabowska via Pex
February 05, 2021
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