RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Johnson and Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine reached a major milestone on Wednesday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it’s safe and 85 percent effective at preventing severe illness, and 66 percent protective overall.
The administration is expected to grant emergency use of the vaccine on Friday.
If approved, it could mean 30,000 to 60,000 doses of it coming here to North Carolina next week.
“Logistically, it will be an easier vaccine to roll out and administer,” said Dr. Thomas Holland, associate professor of infectious diseases at Duke.
Not only is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine one-shot, but it also doesn’t need to be kept in freezing temperatures like Pfizer and Moderna.
It can be stored in a refrigerator for months.
“You could really imagine this being useful in a lot of cases, maybe in situations where it’s hard for people to come back for a second vaccine or in places that don’t have the capacity to do the freezers,” said Dr. Holland.
Pfizer and Moderna offer more protection overall, but Johnson and Johnson’s biggest advantage is speed.
The company said it won’t be able to boost its overall vaccine supply significantly right away, but it would in the coming weeks and months.
“Any vaccine we can get that’s proven to protect against this virus, we want it,” said clinic operations supervisor Tiffanie Boone with the Granville/Vance Health Department.
State leaders said if approved, they expect to receive anywhere from 30 to 60 thousand doses of the vaccine in the first week, then more as weeks go on.
We don’t yet know what locations it would go to or who would first have access to it.
“Any increase in supply with effective vaccines really gives us another tool in the toolbox to get ahead of the pandemic,” said Dr. Holland.
State officials have said they expect everyone to be eligible for a vaccine by late spring.
Dr. Holland said the approval of Johnson and Johnson would speed that process up.
“Having a third or a new vaccine to bolster that supply will help move that timetable up,” said Dr. Holland.
Even though Johnson and Johnson has a smaller protection percentage than the other two vaccines, it was also tested during a different time period when COVID variants existed.
At the end of the day, health officials said you should take any approved vaccine that you have the chance to.