What the latest Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine data really means

Katie Ramirez
February 27, 2021

Bahrain became the first nation to authorize Johnson & Johnson's new single-dose coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Thursday, the government announced, just a day after US regulators concluded the shot offers strong protection against severe COVID-19.

Today, Health Canada authorized for use the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccine. The company is ready to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March, an executive said earlier this week at a congressional hearing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a Friday briefing that Canada has now received a total of 643,000 doses, making it the largest week of shipments to date.

Sharma said no one has died or become severely ill in trials of the vaccines now approved by Canada or in those of Johnson & Johnson and Novavax shots, which could be approved soon.

The difference is in where they are manufactured, she said, using the analogy of the same recipe made in two different kitchens. While the mRNA vaccines require two doses for their full benefits to take hold, J&J's single-shot regimen is less complicated to administer.

"So the thing about them is they're much easier to work with so they're just stored at fridge temperatures like we'd see with normal flu shots, they're also much easier to transport", said Kelly Grindrod, a professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.

J&J's "robust" coronavirus vaccine generates a lasting immune response in an early-stage clinical trial. Health officials in the province said hospitalizations have dropped by 13, to 620, while intensive care also decreased by three to 119.

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At least one moderate Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has also not publicly committed to supporting Tanden. But Democrats and interest groups say she is being unfairly targeted because of her gender and race.

AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of the vaccine to the Serum Institute of India, which is marketing the vaccine under the name COVISHIELD.

Panel member Dr. Paul Offit warned that launching a two-dose version of the vaccine down the road might cause problems. "It's a messaging challenge".

Cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically since their January peak that followed the winter holidays. And even if people could pick and choose now, experts say, that would likely hinder the goal of mass vaccination - which is to protect as many lives as quickly as possible. In the morning, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official will highlight data on variants that are being closely watched for their threat to vaccine efficacy.

Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, with 362 of them in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region.

"Most vaccine sites administer one [type of] vaccine on a given day", Manisha Juthani, an infectious-disease specialist at Yale Medicine, wrote in an email.

The FDA panel's vote to approve the company's EUA was expected, as the vaccine was found to have a "favorable safety profile with no specific concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA", the FDA said in documents posted ahead of Friday's meeting of the panel of independent experts. AstraZeneca's vaccine, for instance, is cleared for use in Britain and Europe after data suggested it was about 70 percent effective.

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