U.Md. specialist calls Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine a ‘winner’

An infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland said Monday the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has an efficacy rate in the U.S. in the 70% range, calling it a winner.

It is the third vaccine approved in the U.S. to protect against the coronavirus, and the first requiring only one shot. Johnson and Johnson received emergency use approval Saturday for people 18 years of age and older.

“It bodes very well, a single dose is certainly advantageous,” Dr. Matt Laurens, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland, told WTOP Monday.

“It’s not requiring folks to come back and they’re protected immediately. Also, this vaccine is being tested in a two-dose regimen. So if later on, we decide that a second dose is needed, that can be later given to individuals who received a single dose.”

Laurens said currently it is unknown how well the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work against new COVID-19 variants.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85% effective against severe COVID-19 cases and offers “complete protection against COVID-related hospitalization and death, 28 days post-vaccination,” the company said.

“This vaccine is a winner, we have over 50% efficacy,” Laurens said. “It’s in the 70% range in the United States, and in South Africa, where they have the South African variant, it’s 64% efficacious, so again, very efficacious, even against these new variants.”

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third coronavirus shot approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Laurens said when people go to get inoculated, they may not have an option as to which vaccine they get.

“Please be enthusiastic about any of the three vaccines that are being currently distributed in the United States,” Laurens said. “All of them have great efficacy and the faster we get people protected against COVID-19, the sooner we’ll end this pandemic. I would say go for it if you are offered the any of the three vaccines.”

Nearly 4 million doses shipped Sunday night, and will begin to be delivered to states for injections starting on Tuesday.

More than 100,000 first doses of the vaccine are headed to the D.C. area, according to CDC data.  Virginia is set to receive 69,700 doses; Maryland is slated to receive 49,600 doses; and the District is set to receive 6,000 doses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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