In a major milestone in the vaccine development for Covid-19, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) advisory panel recommended the Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) single-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.
The recommendation has come as a major development as the J&J vaccine prevented 100% of hospitalizations and deaths in its clinical test. Interestingly, the decision of the advisory committee is non-binding on the FDA but it is usually followed.
The FDA approved the vaccines of those companies a day after the committee endorsed the emergency use authorization during similar requests by Pfizer and Moderna. A third vaccine could be approved on Saturday if J&J's follow the trend.
The non-binding decision, adopted 22-0 by the FDA's Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products, comes even as the Biden Administration aims to increase the availability of vaccine doses to get Americans vaccinated as soon as possible.
It is to be noted that the U.S. health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about new, emerging strains of the virus, particularly South Africa's B.1.351 strain which has reduced the effectiveness of the vaccines under-development and available in the market.
According to a report in CNBC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned that the decreases in Covid-19 cases reported in the United States since early January could now be flattening as variants spread.
She said, "Over the last few weeks, cases and hospital admissions in the United States have been coming down since early January and deaths have been declining in the past week. But the latest data suggest that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off at still a very high number."
What's unique about J&J's vaccine?
The unique feature about J&J's vaccine is that unlike Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines, which require two doses three to four weeks apart, J&J's vaccine only requires one dose, making it easier for health-care providers to manage. Moreover, the logistical challenges are more simplified in J&J's vaccine as it can be store in the refrigerator temperatures for months in contrast to two other vaccines that required to be stored at sub-zero temperatures.