Alabama doctors discuss Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine and efficacy

The company claims its single-shot vaccine is 72% effective against moderate and severe disease in the U.S.

Posted: Feb 5, 2021 4:04 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2021 4:27 PM

A third COVID-19 vaccine could soon be on the market in the U.S.

The FDA is now considering an emergency use authorization request by Johnson & Johnson.

The company claims its single-shot vaccine is 72% effective against moderate and severe disease in the U.S.

However, the vaccines already on the market are about 95% effective overall. UAB Doctor Sarah Nafziger said if approved, to not rule it out based on the lower efficacy rate.

"If that effectiveness is less than what is published for the Pfizer and Moderna products, if it's in the 55% range, that's still a very effective vaccine," Nafziger said.

She said it is important to note its reported ability to prevent severe cases.

"While it would be preferential for people not to catch COVID at all, that would be the end goal, more importantly, is to prevent people from having the severe disease and prevent people from dying from COVID," Nafziger said.

Some people wonder if they can take the J&J shot in addition to the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Infectious Disease Specialist Jeanne Marrazzo said to not rule that option out yet.

"There are studies being planned now, being called mixed and matched studies, where we're going to try to look at these things," Marrazzo said. "But I do think it's going to depend a little bit on when people get that second shot."

While this request comes at a time when Alabama is in desperate need of more vaccines, there are still likely weeks of review ahead.

"There's still a lot of review that's going to happen," Nafziger said. "The FDA still has to review it, so we'll have to wait and see after the final announcement."

If it gets approval from the FDA, the vaccine goes to the CDC, which will decide if the vaccine is safe for the general public and who should get it first.

The U.S. has placed an order for 100 million doses. If approved, Johnson & Johnson said it can deliver that amount by June.

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