Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials of its one-dose COVID vaccine have been concluded and results are a little disappointing.
The vaccine was found to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease. Still, public health officials say the vaccine will still be effective in the global fight against COVID-19.
Where the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are 95 percent effective against severe disease, they require two doses for full inoculation. Both serums also require deep refrigeration to remain viable. J&J’s one-dose vaccine could prove valuable in the Third World and other spots where the vaccine is limited and cold storage facilities non-existent.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and others will help alleviate stress on the US health care system.
“If we can alleviate that, that is really important — not only with this candidate, but the others that have already gotten the EUA,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a call with reporters on Friday morning.
“If you can prevent severe disease in a high percentage of individuals, that will alleviate so much of the stress and human suffering and death.”
Another problem with the J&J vaccine could be its being less effective against the COVID variant from South Africa.
In South Africa, 95% of cases in the trial were due to a variant known as B.1.351, which is known to be more contagious and carries mutations that may make the virus less susceptible to the antibody immune response — including antibodies prompted by vaccination.
With that variant, “we have a lower protection against milder forms of Covid than we did in the United States, where there were more typical circulating variants,” Dr. Mathai Mammen, the company’s global head of research and development, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
There are also some indications that the vaccine works better over time.
“Across all geographies, across all variants, we see 85% protection” against severe disease, he said. That trend increased over time, with no severe cases in the vaccinated group after day 49, according to the company.
From one month after the shot, all hospitalizations and deaths occurred in the placebo group.
The J&J vaccine may prove to be ideal for younger, healthy patients, but more studies need to be conducted before making that determination.
In practical terms, the addition of another vaccine is good news even if it’s not as effective as some others. Its “one and done” dosage requirement may work well for some people who aren’t in the high risk group of getting seriously ill.