Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has submitted data on its coronavirus vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks the agency’s greenlight for emergency use. Unlike other shots, this one comes in a single dose.
The emergency-use approval is a prerequisite for the vaccine joining the WHO-led COVAX watchdog program, J&J said in a statement on Friday, revealing it had submitted its paperwork to the UN health body.
Unlike vaccine competitors already in the Covid-fighting market, the J&J offering comes in a single-dose form, which would make its distribution considerably easier. Moreover, it can be stored under standard refrigerator temperatures, making it an attractive option for countries with less-developed infrastructure.
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While Russia’s Sputnik V, British-Swedish AstraZeneca and China’s CoronaVac vaccines can be stored in regular fridges as well, both of the US jabs by Moderna and Pfizer require extremely low temperatures to prevent spoilage. Pfizer said on Friday, however, that it had sufficient data to show its jab can actually be safely stored in a refrigerator and not the extreme cold currently advised.
Johnson and Johnson published data on the late-stage trials of its vaccine last month, with the solution showing a rather modest efficacy of 66 percent. The vaccine was tested across several countries and showed mixed results ranging from 72 percent in the US to merely 57 percent in South Africa.
So far, the J&J jab has been administered only in South Africa, and that’s after the country hastily searched for an alternative to AstraZeneca. South Africa launched its mass vaccination campaign using the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine early this month, but halted it after a few days over a limited study that suggested the AstraZeneca jab fared poorly against the local and extra-contagious Covid strain.
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Apart from seeking the WHO’s approval, the J&J vaccine is also expected to enter the US market shortly. The solution is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration, with its experts expected to discuss its emergency use authorization next week.
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