Desk Report (Channel TT): The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, the third vaccine approved in the U.S. to fight the pandemic.
“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents - protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
“The more vaccines that have high efficacy that we can get into play, the better,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said ahead of the FDA’s ruling. Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer.
J&J also is seeking authorization for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organization. Worldwide, the company aims to produce about 1 billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use.
Officials hope a single-shot vaccine will help speed up vaccinations against the coronavirus, which has killed over 500,000 people in the U.S. and infected millions more. The FDA said the J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and death and has been shown to be 85% effective against severe COVID-19.