The New Jersey-based drugmaker created a COVID-19 vaccine that works at 66% efficiency in one dose, which they have sent to the EU for approval
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) are expected to make a decision by mid-March, which means the fourth COVID vaccine for Europe could be Johnson & Johnson.
The US Government in August 2020 gave more than than $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson for the production of 100 million doses, with the condition that the US is eligible to order an additional 200 million doses.
The EU has currently ordered 200 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, but do not expect deliveries until early April, 2021.
The European Commission is expected to approve the vaccine as soon as the EMA does. The decision is widely expected to be positive news for the bloc, who have been criticised for a slow vaccine rollout.
What about the ongoing COVID mutations?
They today (17 February) launched the HERA Incubator, which is a bio-defence preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants. This will theoretically work to detect new mutations in the virus and speed up the approval process for COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to scaling up vaccine manufacturing. It is similar to the Consortium assembled in the UK to study mutations.
The South African mutation is currently able to continue transmission even with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Luckily, it is unable to kill or severely impact people who have the vaccine – but the evolution of the virus is decreasing initial vaccine efficiency across the globe. This means that vaccine makers are looking at creating a booster shot, which would be administered to people as a top-up on their pre-existing vaccinations.
Johnson & Johnson can handle ordinary COVID in one shot
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can create an efficacy of 66% in one dose, meaning that the drugmaker is one of the most viable options for populations seeking to create immunity as fast as possible.
Alex Gorsky, Chairman, Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson, commented: “We’re proud to have reached this critical milestone and our commitment to address this global health crisis continues with urgency for everyone, everywhere.”
The ENSEMBLE clinical trial registered different efficiencies depending on the country. This highlighted that the vaccine was less impactful against the South African mutation, with a 57% efficiency in the trial based there.
This is a significant decrease from the initial power of the vaccine, but drugmakers are hopeful that they can keep death rates low.
The company further tried to use one dose to create an acceptable level of protection – which resulted in a 66% efficiency. The drug is capable of holding an 85% efficacy against severe COVID, which results in deaths and lung deterioration.