As the nation awaits word on Emergency Use Authorization of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, providers see the J&J option as a likely game-changer for the vaccination rollout both here in Massachusetts and across the country.
If approved, the vaccine would be the first single-dose COVID-19 inoculation available in the United States. That means residents would only need to schedule one appointment - a meaningful distinction for individuals for which transportation, mobility, or even just general unease with the experience of getting shots pose significant barriers. In addition, it does not require the sophisticated refrigeration that is necessary to store its Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna counterparts.
Most importantly, the J&J clinical trials indicate that the vaccine is effective in all meaningful metrics related to individual protection against COVID-19. It has shown to be 85% effective against severe COVID-19 illness and to provide 100% protection against hospitalization and death from the virus.
Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, and his team were key partners in the design of the vaccine, which draws upon technology they developed over a decade ago.
"We were able to move so quickly in part because we were able to build on our previous vaccine research against other pathogens, including HIV and Zika," said Barouch in a BIDMC press release. "That prior work allowed us to move forward at an unprecedented pace without sacrificing any of the established safeguards for vaccine development."
Federal officials have stated that initial supply of Johnson & Johnson doses would be limited, with the 100 million doses committed through the end of July likely to be “back end loaded.” South Africa became the first nation to administer the vaccine last week.