Johnson and Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine is submitted to the FDA.
The pharmaceutical company has applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization for its one dose coronavirus vaccine. Their application came after the publication of their successful clinical trial this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. It showed that the vaccine was 66% effective at reducing coronavirus infections after a single dose.
It is likely that the vaccine could be approved during the FDA advisory committee meeting on February 26th, which could make it possible that the vaccine would be available sometime in March.
Again, I feel it is fine to approve this as its single dose vaccine in the short term, but I believe it will likely be much more effective if used with a second dose.
The government had purposely overestimated the amount of vaccine to assure adequate quantities necessary to immunize the nursing home population. The numbers were based on an estimated nursing home population and the concept that there would be one care person for every resident in the nursing facilities.
Several things made this estimate a marked overestimate of how much vaccine was necessary. First, it turns out that the nursing home population has shrunk dramatically in the past year due both to losses from COVID-19 and the fact that many individuals have moved out of nursing homes to avoid potential infection with the virus.
Added to this, unfortunately, fewer nursing home caregivers agreed to take the vaccine. The excess vaccine will be redistributed to individuals in a number of states like Illinois which are far behind in their vaccination programs.
U.S. public health experts have called on the federal government to approve and fund cheap and fast at-home Covid-19 tests to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This week the FDA approved the first test from Ellume, an Australian company. In addition, the Biden administration this week announced a $231.8 million deal to ramp up production of the test.
Unfortunately, the experts’ response was unenthusiastic. “It is priced at $30, far too expensive for most Americans to conduct frequent, regular screening at home. And the test is linked to a smartphone app that requires some tech savvy and steps” said Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Another expert dismissed it as, “a spit in the ocean. It’s not that home testing with a 15-minute turnaround time isn’t a good idea,” they said, “it’s just that the rollout of this initial kit is too little and too late, and the test too expensive and complicated, to help extinguish the raging pandemic.”