U.S. could roll out J&J vaccine next week

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, paving the way for its widespread, emergency use.

The White House's COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Wednesday that the U.S. expects to allocate three to four million doses of the vaccine next week, pending approval.

“We're working with the company to accelerate the pace and time frame by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of June.”

The additional vaccine will help President Joe Biden’s administration in its goal of ramping up vaccination across the country as it seeks to control the pandemic that has cost more than 500,000 lives in the U.S. and pummeled the economy.

The J&J vaccine is administered in a single dose and can be stored in normal refrigerators, in contrast to the Pfizer and Moderna shots which need two doses and must be kept in freezers.

J&J executive Richard Nettles this week told Congress his company’s vaccine is highly effective.

“Twenty-eight days after vaccination, the vaccine provided complete protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death. The vaccine was 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease, including across countries with newly emerging variants. The vaccine was 72% effective in the United States at preventing moderate to sever disease.”

The FDA’s panel of independent experts meets on Friday to decide whether to approve the shot. While it’s not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the FDA did so when authorizing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.