The U.S. Food and Drug administration has authorized the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in adults. Maureen Ferran, a virologist in ~ the Rochester academy of Technology, describes how this 3rd authorized vaccine works and also explores the differences between it and the Moderna and also Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines that are currently in use.

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How go the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is what’s called a viral vector vaccine.

To develop this vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson team took a harmless adenovirus – the viral vector – and replaced a tiny piece the its genetic instructions with coronavirus genes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

After this modification adenovirus is injected into someone’s arm, it enters the who cells. The cells then read the genetic instructions required to make the spike protein and the vaccinated cells make and present the spike protein ~ above their very own surface. The person’s immune mechanism then notices these foreign proteins and also makes antibodies versus them that will safeguard the human being if lock are ever before exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the future.

The adenovirus vector vaccine is safe because the adenovirus can’t replicate in human cells or cause disease, and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can’t reason COVID–19 without the rest of the coronavirus.

This technique is no new. Johnson & Johnson supplied a similar an approach to make its Ebola vaccine, and the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is also an adenovirus famous vector vaccine.

How efficient is it?

The FDA’s analysis found that, in the U.S., the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to be 72% efficient at preventing all COVID-19 and also 86% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease. While over there is quiet a opportunity a vaccinated person might get sick, this suggests they would certainly be much much less likely to need hospitalization or to dice from COVID-19.

A comparable trial in southern Africa, wherein a new, more contagious variant is dominant, produced similar results. Researchers discovered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine come be slightly less reliable at staying clear of all condition there – 64% overall – however was tho 82% effective at preventing severe disease. The FDA report additionally indicates the the vaccine protects against other variants from Britain and also Brazil too.

How is it different from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

The most basic difference is the the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine, while the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are both mRNA vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines use genetic instructions indigenous the coronavirus to tell a person’s cells to do the spike protein, yet these don’t use an additional virus as a vector. Over there are many practical differences, too.

Both of the mRNA-based vaccines call for two shots. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a solitary dose. This is crucial when vaccines space in brief supply.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can also be save at lot warmer temperatures 보다 the mRNA vaccines. The mRNA vaccines need to be shipped and also stored at below–freezing or subzero temperatures and also require a facility cold chain come safely distribution them. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine have the right to be stored for at least three month in a consistent refrigerator, making the much much easier to use and distribute.

As for efficacy, that is daunting to directly compare the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with the mRNA vaccines early out to differences in how the clinical trials were designed. While the Moderna and also Pfizer vaccines are reported come be roughly 95% effective at staying clear of illness indigenous COVID–19, the trials were done over the summer and also fall that 2020, prior to newer more contagious variants to be circulating widely. The Moderna and also Pfizer vaccines could not be together effective versus the brand-new variants, and Johnson & Johnson trials were done more recently and take right into account the vaccine’s efficacy against these new variants.

Should I select one type of vaccine end another?

Although the all at once efficacy of the Moderna and also Pfizer vaccines is higher than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you must not wait till you have actually your selection of vaccine – i m sorry is likely a long way off anyway. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is practically as great as the mRNA-based vaccines at avoiding serious disease, and also that’s what really matters.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine and also other viral-vector vaccines prefer the one native AstraZeneca are specifically important because that the an international vaccination effort. Native a public health perspective, it’s essential to have actually multiple COVID-19 vaccines, and also the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a really welcome enhancement to the vaccine arsenal. It doesn’t need a freezer, making it much much easier to ship and also store. The a one-shot vaccine, making logistics much easier contrasted with arranging two doses per person.

As many world as possible need to it is in vaccinated as conveniently as possible to limit the development of brand-new coronavirus variants. Johnson & Johnson is meant to delivery out virtually four million doses as soon as the FDA grants emergency usage authorization. Having actually a third authorized vaccine in the U.S. Will certainly be a large step towards meeting vaccination demand and also stopping this pandemic.


Editor’s note: Johnson & Johnson is a funder that the NewsHour.

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This post is republished native The Conversation under a an innovative Commons license. Read the initial article.