FDA Approves Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Situation Report | March 1, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Johnson & Johnson-Janssen Biotech vaccine for emergency use authorization, making it the third vaccine to be available in the public health response to COVID-19.

The vaccine is reportedly 66 percent effective globally (72 percent in the U.S.) when it comes to preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease and it is 85 percent effective in preventing severe and critical disease.

Distinct from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines now in use, Johnson & Johnson’s is the first single-dose vaccine and does not have the same restrictive cold-storage requirements. Experts note that these characteristics may help overcome logistical or access issues, especially at mass vaccination sites or rural areas.

Nevertheless, overall vaccine shortages are expected to continue in the near-term as supply and distribution ramp up to meet demand.

Johnson & Johnson said it will deliver 3.9 million doses in the first week. Another 20 million doses are expected by the end of March, with 100 million total anticipated in the first half of the year.

A significant concern for all of the vaccines is their effectiveness against variants. Vaccine makers have indicated that they are examining — and, in the case of Moderna, actively testing — a booster regimen to target variants.