Johnson & Johnson Lower-Efficacy Vaccine Would Still Help Herd Immunity, Doctor Says

Jan 29, 2021, 12:24 PM | Updated: 12:25 pm
FILE (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)...
FILE (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)
(Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The FDA could sign off on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as soon as next week.

The company has worked with the government in a private-public partnership for Operation Warp Speed. The approval of the vaccine could drastically increase the amount of doses Utah gets.

“It either stops you from getting COVID, or it helps you, if you get COVID, have a milder version of COVID,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, Johnson & Johnson global head of pharmaceutical research and development.

On Friday, the company announced it will soon be filing for emergency use authorization for the vaccine in the United States.

The vaccine is just one shot instead of the two-dose immunization from Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have an efficacy of approximately 94% – 95%, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has about a 66% overall efficacy.

Johnson & Johnson’s doesn’t need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures; it can be kept in a fridge. And while the efficacy may be nearly one-third less than the other vaccines, the company said it will still help build herd immunity.

Gov. Spencer Cox said the approval of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines would open the door for more groups of people to be vaccinated. Currently, only people over 70, people at high risk, health care workers and K-12 teachers are eligible to receive the vaccine in Utah.

“If we can now start to get over 100,000 doses a week in March and April, that means we can go through those categories and significantly reduce the age limitations of getting the vaccine and protect lots of lives,” Cox said at his weekly COVID-19 update.

State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Utahns need to remain vigilant and practice COVID safety precautions until more vaccines are available.

“We don’t have enough Utahns vaccinated yet to rely on vaccines as the only prevention measure,” she said.

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Johnson & Johnson Lower-Efficacy Vaccine Would Still Help Herd Immunity, Doctor Says