Mid-Michigan expert explains benefits and challenges of new Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 20:09:39-05

On Friday, Johnson & Johnson released the phase three global trial results for their one-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson relases data on new vaccine
Data on phase 3 of the Janssen vaccine by Johnson & Johnson was released today.

The trial was conducted with 44,000 participants over the age of 18.

Data shows the vaccine is 66 percent effective globally and 85 percent effective against severe disease. Just here in the United States, it was 72 percent effective against moderate-severe COVID cases after 28 days.

One major difference compared to the other two vaccines is that it's only one dose; which Michigan State University Professor of Medicine Peter Gulick says is a positive thing.

“By giving one dose it can be distributed in a much larger volume of people to get immunized," he said.

Johnson & Johnson's Global Research Chief Mathai Mammen says out of those who received the active vaccine during the trial, none were hospitalized or died.

"We have 100 percent protection, complete protection against hospitalization and death," Mammen said. "Those that contracted cases of COVID after 28 days of being vaccinated, all of the hospitalizations, all of the deaths occurred on placebos. None occurred on those that received the vaccine."

The Janssen vaccine is also stored differently than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson releases data on new vaccin
The Janssen vaccine is stored in refrigerators unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that need to be stored in much cooler temperatures,

“The Johnson & Johnson is more like a refrigerator and can last for several months," Gulick said. "Again, another advantage as far as keeping it or distributing it to areas where they might not have the freezing techniques.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use RNA, a genetic messenger technology. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a similar technique, but it's slightly different.

“The Johnson & Johnson, they use a similar type of technique, but they use an adnal virus. Adnal virus is just a virus that causes respiratory symptoms and things in humans," Gulick said. "But the adnal virus they use has been damaged enough that it cant replicate."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the President finds this data encouraging.

“The president is encouraged by positive data on a potential new vaccine," Psaki said. "He also knows this is just new data and now is the time for the FDA to do its job of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”

When it comes to whether this vaccine will protect against the new strains that have recently been found in the United States, Gulick says so far, it's only been tested internationally.

“They found about a 58% response rate even in these variants and you might say my goodness that’s very very low, but nobody's done any other studies with the other vaccines yet to look at what percent of response the other vaccines may have.”

While Gulick doesn't have all the questions answered about this new vaccine, yet, he still thinks it shows promise for the future.

“This Johnson and Johnson may have a real advantage international given the one does and that it doesn’t have to be stored in these real low temperatures,” he said.

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