FDA panel recommends Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use, formal authorization coming soon

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 23:12:01-05

WASHINGTON — A panel of health advisers from the FDA have endorsed Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine Friday afternoon. The FDA is expected to quickly follow up the recommendation with an emergency use authorization for the vaccine later Friday or over the weekend.

The company says shipments of the one-dose vaccine could begin as early as Monday.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee met Friday to discuss recommending Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. They have recommended an emergency use authorization for use in adults and the decision will now be voted on by the FDA, possibly Saturday, before the CDC grants final approval. These final steps are expected over the weekend.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will become the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in America, along with one from Pfizer and one from Moderna.

Read more: Which vaccine is best?

Johnson & Johnson's is the only one that requires only one dose. Pfizer and Moderna's both require two doses for full efficacy. Also, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators. Both of these factors mean the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be easier to distribute to a larger part of the country.

Earlier in the day during a COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci both said they were "excited" about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"We have three highly effective vaccines...this is good news," Fauci said.

Earlier this week, an FDA report found the vaccine to safe and effective.

Echoing comments he made earlier this week, Fauci warned Americans not to be choosy when it comes to which COVID-19 vaccine they receive.

"Right now, whatever vaccine is available to you, get that vaccine," Fauci said.

Although the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine has a lower efficacy rate in clinical trials when compared to Pfizer and Moderna's clinical trials, experts warn it's not quite apples-to-apples comparisons.

The Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was put through clinical trials later on, with more variants of the coronavirus in circulation, and was tested in South Africa while the variant in that country was the dominant strain.

"The key here is that it protects against the severe disease and that’s really what we’re looking for," said Michael Teng, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at USF Health.

Governor Ron DeSantis has previously looked ahead to the vaccine, saying it would be a game changer.

“Floridians if all goes to plan you should start seeing Johnson & Johnson sometime next week,” he said during a news conference earlier in the week.

President Joe Biden also addressed the vaccine candidate on Thursday.

“What I will say to the American people is this, if, if the FDA approves the use of this new vaccine, we have a plan to roll it out as quickly as Johnson & Johnson can make it,” the President said.