Johnson & Johnson filed for Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in early February for its vaccine. If approved, the J&J vaccine could begin being distributed by the end of February; the agency will likely be making their final decision by Monday. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine differs in some key ways from the two vaccines already approved in the U.S. from Pfizer and Moderna. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s Different About This Vaccine?
Unlike the two existing vaccines in the U.S., Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be kept in a regular refrigerator—it doesn’t require any special temperature control. Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines have to be kept very cold (Pfizer even more so than Moderna), which makes them difficult to transport and distribute—doses sometimes have to be thrown away because they aren’t cold enough.
Pfizer and Moderna are also both two-shot vaccines. Patients receive one dose and then a second, booster dose about three weeks later. Johnson &Johnson’s vaccine requires only one dose, which would make it easier to vaccinate large numbers of people very quickly.
Is this Vaccine Effective?
It’s difficult to compare the J&J vaccine directly to Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines since the vaccines are distributed differently and both the approved vaccines were also rolled out before variants of the virus were discovered. However, the data from Johnson & Johnson so far shows that their vaccine is likely slightly less effective than Pfizer and Moderna, but would still prevent severe impacts in most patients.
Johnson & Johnson’s data shows that the vaccine is 66% percent effective overall in preventing the virus, but 85% effective against severe disease. That would prevent hospitals from becoming overrun and keep patients from developing life-threatening symptoms
When Will the Vaccine Be Approved?
The FDA released analysis today that they have found the vaccine to be safe and effective. The agency's independent advisors will review the findings and decide whether to recommend the shot on Friday, and based on their decision the FDA will make their final decision within a few days. We will keep you updated as we know more about the approval process.
This is a developing story, and we will keep you in the loop on the latest news. If you haven’t already, make sure you download the Skip App on the App Store and Google Play so you can receive push notifications, and don’t forget that we have a free vaccine tracker you can use to see how the vaccine rollout is going and your position relative to others.