BALTIMORE (WMAR) — While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being considered for Emergency Use Authorization Friday, we are also learning more about the vaccines already deployed in the U.S. and others that could be coming down the pipeline.
"What the different choices give us is more vaccine doses and that’s really critical to getting out of the pandemic," said Dr. Anna Durbin.
Durbin is a professor of international health for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She expects Emergency Use Authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday, with roll out soon to follow.
"It’s a bit easier when you’re working with a single dose vaccine to roll it out because you don’t have to worry about 'Are we gonna have enough doses for a second dose?'," said Durbin.
Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, J&J's was studied in Brazil and South Africa and demonstrated efficacy against the South African variant.
"It builds confidence that we are gonna get through this. Even if variants are coming up, the vaccines, particularly the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, where we have proven efficacy," said Durbin.
Pfizer and Moderna were not studied where variants were circulating, so there isn’t any data on that and Durbin suggests that’s why they have an overall higher efficacy percentage than J&J.
"It’s really my assumption that if you were to look at efficacy data of Pfizer and Moderna against the South African strain it also would be lower," said Durbin.
Durbin said the more important data in on the protection against severe COVID-19.
"I think the really important thing is 100% efficacy against hospitalization and death. That’s where our public health impact is," said Durbin.
Johnson & Johnson, which is being produced in Baltimore, has also shown the ability to reduce virus transmission, something a recent Israeli study also found about Pfizer.
"If you’re vaccinated, you may get infected with the virus but you’re gonna shed less virus for a shorter period of time, meaning it’s more difficult for you to transmit the virus to someone else. That’s really going to be very helpful in getting this whole pandemic under control," said Durbin.
After J&J, there are two other vaccines coming down the pipeline.
Durbin expects the 2-dose AstraZeneca vaccine to be approved for Emergency Use Authorization by mid-March, and approval of the 2-dose vaccine from the Gaithersburg-based Novavax to come shortly after that.
"Certainty I would think Q2 of 2021, we’ll have a fifth vaccine which will just be fantastic," said Durbin.
Because of that, she believes the vast majority of adults who want to be vaccinated will be vaccinated by the summer.
"I think we are gonna have enough doses for that. To truly reach herd immunity, we are gonna need to vaccinate kids as well so I see that coming along closer to the fall," said Durbin.
Several vaccines are undergoing trials with 12-16-year-olds right now.