US advisers endorse single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

U.S. health advisers have endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson that's expected to provide an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic.

Posted: Feb 26, 2021 4:20 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2021 6:29 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to quickly follow the recommendation and make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Vaccinations are picking up speed, but new supplies are urgently needed to stay ahead of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

After daylong discussions, the FDA panelists voted unanimously that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks for adults. If the FDA agrees, shipments of a few million doses could begin as early as Monday.

More than 47 million people in the U.S., or 14% of the population, have received at least one shot of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which FDA authorized in December. But the pace of vaccinations has been strained by limited supplies and delays due to winter storms.

While early J&J supplies will be small, the company has said it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June.

J&J’s vaccine protects against the worst effects of COVID-19 after one shot, and it can be stored up to three months at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to handle than the previous vaccines, which must be frozen.

One challenge in rolling out the new vaccine will be explaining how protective the J&J shot is after the astounding success of the first U.S. vaccines.

The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were found to be about 95% effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The numbers from J&J’s study are not that high, but it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. One dose of the J&J vaccine was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19. After adding in moderate cases, the total effectiveness dropped to about 66%.

Some experts fear that lower number could feed public perceptions that J&J’s shot is a “second-tier vaccine.” But the difference in protection reflects when and where J&J conducted its studies.

J&J’s vaccine was tested in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa at a time when more contagious mutated versions of the virus were spreading. That wasn’t the case last fall, when Pfizer and Moderna were wrapping up testing, and it’s not clear if their numbers would hold against the most worrisome of those variants.

Importantly, the FDA reported this week that, just like its predecessors, the J&J shot offers strong protection against the worst outcomes, hospitalization and death.

While J&J is seeking FDA authorization for its single-dose version, the company is also studying whether a second dose boosts protection.

Panel member Dr. Paul Offit warned that launching a two-dose version of the vaccine down the road might cause problems.

“You can see where that would be confusing to people thinking, ’Maybe I didn’t get what I needed,’” said Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s a messaging challenge.”

J&J representatives said they chose to begin with the single shot because the World Health Organization and other experts agreed it would be a faster, more effective tool in an emergency.

Cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically since their January peak that followed the winter holidays. But public health officials warned that those gains may be stalling as more variants take root in the U.S.

“We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said, speaking at the White House on Friday. She noted that new COVID-19 cases have increased over the past few days.

While it’s too early to tell if the trend will last, Walensky said adding a third vaccine “will help protect more people faster.” More vaccines are in the pipeline.

On Sunday, a CDC panel is expected to meet to recommend how to best prioritize use of the J&J vaccine.

Other parts of the world already are facing which-is-best challenges. Italy’s main teachers’ union recently protested when the government decided to reserve Pfizer and Moderna shots for the elderly and designate AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger, at-risk workers. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was deemed to be about 70% effective in testing. Canada became the latest country Friday to allow use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307094

Reported Deaths: 7086
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20729248
Hinds19851407
Harrison17465302
Rankin13297275
Jackson13090243
Madison9876210
Lee9849169
Jones8288160
Forrest7511146
Lauderdale7170237
Lowndes6256144
Lamar609684
Lafayette6020117
Washington5278132
Bolivar4768129
Oktibbeha455097
Panola4430103
Pearl River4414139
Warren4277118
Marshall4262100
Pontotoc416372
Monroe4055131
Union403275
Neshoba3979176
Lincoln3870107
Hancock371584
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329289
Tate322181
Pike3170104
Scott310172
Yazoo304168
Alcorn297464
Itawamba296576
Copiah292463
Coahoma289277
Simpson287384
Tippah284568
Prentiss275259
Marion265479
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Covington254380
Grenada254382
Adams245882
Newton244659
George237646
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186371
Clay182354
Stone178631
Clarke176475
Tallahatchie175140
Calhoun163130
Smith158534
Yalobusha158536
Walthall130443
Greene129333
Lawrence126123
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120726
Amite119940
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102425
Claiborne101230
Benton97225
Kemper95026
Humphreys94332
Franklin81523
Quitman78516
Choctaw72816
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64427
Sharkey49517
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518234

Reported Deaths: 10686
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson752631485
Mobile37687797
Madison33784490
Tuscaloosa25231442
Montgomery23928563
Shelby23088237
Baldwin20600300
Lee15491165
Calhoun14270311
Morgan14135268
Etowah13657344
Marshall11941219
Houston10373277
Elmore9979200
Limestone9797146
Cullman9458188
St. Clair9419234
Lauderdale9196227
DeKalb8733181
Talladega8035168
Walker7083275
Jackson6751110
Autauga6710103
Blount6475134
Colbert6199129
Coffee5394112
Dale4764110
Russell426837
Franklin419782
Chilton4076109
Covington4054113
Tallapoosa3895147
Escambia387374
Dallas3523149
Chambers3496122
Clarke346160
Marion3064100
Pike305375
Lawrence295095
Winston272271
Bibb256158
Marengo248560
Geneva245875
Pickens232958
Barbour224555
Hale218775
Butler211866
Fayette208860
Henry187744
Cherokee181843
Randolph176341
Monroe171140
Washington163838
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124326
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter103032
Coosa98827
Greene90834
Choctaw58624
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A few bands of storms will be making their way through the area through the early morning hours. Some of these storms will bring gusty winds, lots of lightning, and potentially some hail. Luckily, this moves out by mid-morning and we eventually could see some clearing during the afternoon with highs in the mid 70s.
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