A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on Friday voted to endorse a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, paving the way for the vaccine to be granted emergency use authorization in the US. All 22 committee members voted in favor of approving the vaccine.
If the FDA acts on the panel's recommendation, the vaccine will become the third authorized one in the US and the first one-shot vaccine that can be stored in regular refrigerators instead of sub-zero temperatures, like Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines.
The vaccine has undergone clinical testing on more than 44,000 people in the US, South Africa and Latin America and has an overall efficacy of 66% in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine works differently than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and uses a common cold virus called adenovirus 26 to deliver the genetic code for a part of COVID-19 into the body. The adenovirus has been genetically engineered in such a way so that it cannot replicate in the body. By carrying a small part of the COVID-19 genetic code, the adenovirus, once injected, can instigate an immune response against COVID-19.
The FDA has not identified specific safety concerns associated with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. Common side effects among people who received the vaccine include headaches, fatigue and muscle pain. Nausea, fever and pain at the injection site were also reported.
J&J’s one-dose vaccine “makes it operationally easier in lots of contexts,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC's) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a Friday event.
“I expect lots of considerations state health departments are having around these vaccines is more about the ease of use of the J&J [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine and how it might be better suited for some populations," she added, CNBC reported.