The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine against COVID-19, which is administered as a single dose, is effective “in all demographic subgroups,” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At a meeting of the committee of medical specialists to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine, the FDA said Friday that the J&J antigen has also shown signs of being safe.
The working group, which includes 22 doctors specializing in epidemiology, vaccines, internal medicine or pediatrics, is due to issue an opinion this Friday before the FDA decides whether or not to authorize the use of the vaccine, something that is expected to occur this Saturday.
Until now, the US has granted authorization for the emergency use of vaccines against COVID-19 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the biotechnology company Moderna, which require two doses and very low temperatures for their conservation.
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J&J’s vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators for at least three months, making it logistically easier to handle than Pfizer and Moderna, which require extreme freezing temperatures.
However, clinical trials of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine indicate that it has an overall effectiveness in immunizing against the disease of 66%, well below those of its competitors, which reach up to 95%.
The tests carried out by J&J on its vaccine in the US yielded an efficacy of 72%, in Latin America 66% and in South Africa, where a more resistant and contagious variant of the virus has spread, 64%.
The vaccine was 73.1% effective in preventing cases that occurred at least 14 days after vaccination and 81.7% in cases at least 28 days after injection.
In terms of severe cases, trials have shown that the vaccine prevents 86% in the United States and 82% in Latin America, which in practice would mean that it is highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.
FDA officials told the advisory committee that they plan to continue studying the vaccine to assess its efficacy in specific populations, the duration of its protective effect, and its efficacy against new strains of the virus.
If it gets its emergency approval, J&J has said that it expects to distribute about 20 million doses in the United States by the end of March, while the government has assured that, of them, between three and four million would be distributed next week.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients announced Wednesday that the government is working with Johnson & Johnson to accelerate the pace of production with a view to distributing a total 100 million doses by the end of June.
Regarding the number of weekly cases, America registered a marked decrease of 19%, followed by East Asia (9%), Europe (7%) and Africa (2%).
The fact that this vaccine requires a single injection, unlike the two from Pfizer and Moderna, would speed up the vaccination campaign.
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