The packing and shipping of a third COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the U.S. is underway. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot will start going into Americans’ arms in a matter of days.
Nearly 4 million doses are going out just this week. That's all of the current supply.
The number of doses states are getting is proportional to population, like with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Johnson & Johnson’s CEO says he's confident the company will be able to deliver on its promise of 100 million doses by June, and up to 1 billion by the end of the year.
“Johnson &Johnson built its vaccine from a virus that causes the common cold, known as adenovirus,” said Dr. Leo Nissola, a COVID Act Now medical advisor.
The science behind Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna and Pfizer two-shot vaccines is different, but not new.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine takes a small amount of genetic material from the coronavirus and combines it with a weakened version of a common cold virus called adenovirus. That combination doesn't make us sick.
Adenovirus technology was also used to make Ebola and tuberculosis vaccines.
Pfizer and moderna use mRNA technology, which uses a genetic code to make the antigen protein specific to COVID-19. This code tells our body to make the antigen itself, prompting an immune response.
“The messenger RNA platform allows for scientists and drug makers to update the coding on these vaccines sooner, faster and at a different pace than adenovirus vectored vaccine, so in that sense, should we need a boost, our immune shot very likely will come from those mRNA based platforms,” said Dr. Nissola.
Pfizer and Moderna are already testing a third, booster shot to protect against COVID-19 variants.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson may have the advantage of one and done for now, since it only requires a single dose. It can be stored for months in a refrigerator.
All three were found to be highly effective in preventing severe disease and death.
“It makes me hopeful that by summer, we will be able to vaccinate millions and millions of people and have a little bit more normalcy back,” said Dr. Nissola.
The J&J vaccine is also expected to boost vaccination equity since it's only one dose and is easier to store.