“A vaccine that’s inexpensive, that’s a single dose, and that has no cold-chain requirements—that’s pretty good,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The Johnson & Johnson corporation reported Friday its single-dose vaccine is 72% effective in preventing both moderate and severe COVID, according to a global study.
The Phase 3 trial was conducted in the United States, Latin America, and South Africa, and based on nearly 44,000 participants.
While the vaccine has an 85% effectiveness overall in preventing severe COVID, the study found the vaccine to be 72% effective against moderate and severe COVID in the US, with 66% effectiveness in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, 28 days after vaccination.
In addition, the trial concluded protection was “generally consistent” across all variants and regions studied, including the South African B.1.351 variant.
On Thursday, public health officials confirmed two cases of B.1.351 were found in South Carolina. The patients do not have a history of travel.
Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at Johnson & Johnson, told CNN their vaccine was tested after the new variants were already circulating. Although mutations might weaken the vaccine’s effects, the doctor said it will still protect people to an extent.
“I’m looking at that South African variant, and I’m seeing that we’re able to completely protect against concerning levels of illness, where one might go to a hospital,” Mammen said.
Johnson & Johnson developed the vaccine in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and plans to get emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and start distributing the vaccine.
Vaccines already available in the US from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are about 95% effective overall against the novel virus.
Those vaccines require two shots, unlike Johnson & Johnson’s.
This latest inoculation—unlike the other two vaccines—does not require freezer storage. It can be kept refrigerated for up to three months at temperatures between 36–46º F.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has praised the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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“A vaccine that’s inexpensive, that’s a single dose, and that has no cold-chain requirements—that’s pretty good,” he told CNN.
Johnson & Johnson also said there have been no major side effects reported from the vaccine—including severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.