Baltimore-based company making Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses

Posted at 9:27 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 11:01:30-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets closer to emergency use authorization, a company has already started manufacturing doses in Baltimore.

"This is exciting. We might have a third vaccine that can be thrown into the tool kit to help try to end the pandemic," said Johns Hopkins doctor Panagis Galiatsatos.

Johnson & Johnson has released preliminary data from their phase 3 trial. It shows the vaccine is 72% overall effective in preventing moderate COVID-19 in the U.S. and 85% effective at preventing severe disease.

It’s not as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but it only requires one dose.

"Now you might say, 'Can you do a second shot to boost us up into the 90 percentiles that we’ve seen with Moderna and Pfizer?' We could. That’s being studied as we speak, however I do want to make it clear that still at 85%, that’s fantastic," said Galiasatos.

The report shows it also demonstrated complete protection against COVID-related hospitalization and death.

Galiatsatos said the vaccine uses a weakened animal cold virus to carry the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19.

"It’s kind of like giving a message to a pigeon to go and deliver it. That’s what it is. This adenovirus is delivering us this spike protein," said Galiatsatos.

He said it’s a new technology for vaccines, but not to science overall.

"That kind of technology has been used for quite some time, to some extent vaccines, and more specifically in genetic therapy and in cancer trials," said Galiatsatos.

Emergent Bio Solutions in East Baltimore is already manufacturing millions of doses.

Governor Larry Hogan visited last week, saying this vaccine could be a game changer because it’s a single dose that doesn’t require cold storage.

"This could very well be a major break through in terms of increasing the supply of vaccines and we are very proud that a Maryland company will be apart of that," said Hogan.

Hogan said he was told by the federal government it should be approved by the end of the month.