Johnson & Johnson: single-dose vaccine candidate is 72% effective in U.S.

Posted at 8:12 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 20:12:22-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies announced on Friday its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is 72% effective in the U.S. at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.

The Phase 3 ENSEMBLE clinical trial involved 43,783 participants across three global regions. Trial data suggests the vaccine candidate is 72% effective in the U.S., 66% effective in Latin America and 57% effective in South Africa a month after being administered.

In Kentucky, the University of Kentucky, in partnership with Baptist Health Lexington and Norton Healthcare in Louisville, participated as a research site. Nearly 900 people were involved in the clinical trial located in Kentucky.

“[The Janssen vaccine] showed a complete prevention of death and hospitalization from COVID-19,” said Dr. David Dougherty of Baptist Health Lexington.

The efficacy rate of Janssen’s vaccine is lower than the 94-95% effective Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines already authorized in the U.S., but investigators said there are key differences that make Janssen’s vaccine valuable.

The Janssen vaccine requires a single dose compared to the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which could speed up the nation’s vaccine rollout efforts.

“Logistically it’s going to be better if you have a one-dose product,” said Dr. Paul Schulz with Norton Healthcare. “For every dose manufactured, you are immunizing one person, whereas with Moderna and Pfizer products right now, you have to manufacture two doses, distribute two doses and inject two doses.”

“The more people we have vaccinated in the general public, the less overwhelmed our hospitals are going to be and the mortality rate will go down in areas. So I think it is a very, very important vaccine,” said Dr. Dougherty.

The Janssen vaccine could also ease distribution challenges. The vaccines can be stored at higher temperatures in normal refrigerators and do not need to be frozen.

“As manufacturing ramps up, we're going to be able to have more sites that are able to distribute the vaccine that won't need those freezers that are required for the [Pfizer and Moderna] vaccines,” said Dr. Dougherty.

Johnson & Johnson says it could file for U.S. Emergency Use Authorization as early as February.