The Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Receives Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA

March 2, 2021

The Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA this past weekend. This single-shot vaccine is the third COVID vaccine to be released in the United States, with plans to deliver 16 million doses to the federal government by the end of March. Due to production issues, this will be significantly less than the 37 million dose figure released by Johnson & Johnson while the recommendation by the FDA was still under review. The first 3.9 million doses, created in Johnson & Johnson’s Netherland factory, are expected to arrive in America by today, March 2 (2).

“A committee of independent advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted as expected to recommend distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to all adults in the United States” (2). That being said, it has not been decided whether states should prioritize this particular vaccine for certain population groups – including at-risk and immunocompromised groups – over others. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has shown an 85% efficacy rate against severe COVID-19 cases, with complete protection against hospitalizations and death as of 28 days. A concern from officials and patients alike, it “appears to do well against the highly contagious B.1.351 variant” (3). 

In addition to being a single dose, this vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators instead of freezers, making it easier to transport and distribute. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been shown to trigger fewer side effects than Pfizer and Moderna; the side effects are usually more prevalent after the second dose has been administered (3). Again, this will not be an issue as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires one dose. That being said, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (owned and operated by Johnson & Johnson), instructs patients to let their medical provider know if they have “allergies… [and/or] are immunocompromised” before getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and that “there is a remote chance that the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction… [usually] within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine” (4). 

Check out this Vaccine Tracker by the New York Times for up-to-date information regarding vaccine research, production, testing, and approval around the world.