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Johnson & Johnson files for emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

Johnson & Johnson filed for emergency use authorization from the FDA on Thursday for its coronavirus vaccine.

The drug maker’s application followed its announcement that its vaccine was 72% effective in combating the virus. Although that’s slightly lower than Pfizerand Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s requires one dose instead of two.

It can also be stored in refrigerators instead of freezers, meaning that its long-awaited approval could dramatically ease supply shortages and administration nationwide.

Both Pfizer and Moderna were granted emergency use authorization for their vaccines in December.

While Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19, it proved less effective in combating some of the new strains that are spreading around the world. In South Africa, where a highly transmissible strain originated and has since spread to the United States, the company said that its vaccine was only 57% effective.

Other vaccines’ efficacy has slightly decreased regarding new coronavirus strains as well, early studies have shown. But the pharmaceutical companies have remained confident that the recently developed vaccines will still be effective overall.

Even with its varying efficacy rates, Johnson & Johnson said it believed that its one-dose vaccine would be critical in curbing the pandemic.

“This is the pandemic vaccine that can make a difference with a single dose,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, the pharmaceutical company’s chief scientific officer.

Johnson & Johnson’s application means that it could be granted emergency authorization this month, if its timeline mirrors those of Pfizer and Moderna. The company is under contract with the U.S. government to produce 100 million doses by June, enough to vaccinate almost one-third of Americans given that it is just one dose.

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