Health

Johnson & Johnson Says One-Dose Vaccine Works, Despite Reduced Efficacy Against S. Africa Variant

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine effectively prevents hospitalizations and deaths from the disease, the company said Friday.

The company reported its vaccine candidate was 72% effective in stopping moderate to severe coronavirus symptoms during phase 3 clinical trials.

The vaccine was 85% effective against severe illness, however, Johnson & Johnson officials said.

In comparison, vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna reported efficacy rates of 95% and 94.1%, respectively, before receiving emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, though both of those vaccines require two doses.

Johnson & Johnson could request FDA authorization for its vaccine, developed in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, as early as next week, company officials said Friday.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials included roughly 44,000 people in the U.S., South Africa and several Latin American countries, though the efficacy data is based on just 468 cases of symptomatic COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The effectiveness also varied by region. While the vaccine was 72% effective against moderate to severe infection in the U.S., the percentage dropped to 66% worldwide. In South Africa, where a highly contagious variant of the virus has emerged, the effectiveness fell to 57%.

Nevertheless, Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of pharmaceutical research and development at Johnson & Johnson, is optimistic about his company’s drug.

“Changing the trajectory of the pandemic will require mass vaccination to create herd immunity, and a single-dose regimen with fast onset of protection and ease of delivery and storage provides a potential solution to reaching as many people as possible,” Mammen said. “The ability to avoid hospitalizations and deaths would change the game in combating the pandemic.”

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