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What Makes the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Different?

A third COVID-19 vaccine is almost here. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis, one of the final steps before approval, has said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and is about 66% effective at preventing coronavirus.

While that number may be lower than what we’ve seen with both Pfizer and Moderna, experts say the goal of this vaccine is to help “protect against severe disease” and that it will help reduce stress on the overall health care system.

Keep in mind that annual flu vaccines may only be 40 to 60 percent effective.

Johnson and Johnson data also shows the vaccine may protect, better than expected, against new variants of the virus that causes illnesses and disease, STAT reported.

How it’s different
  1. Only a single-dose of the vaccine is needed. “This is the pandemic vaccine that can make a difference with a single dose,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson.
  1. The Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t have to be refrigerated which means distribution could be easier.
  1.  The vaccine uses double-stranded DNA. The other two approved vaccines in the U.S. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use single stranded DNA.  

STAT breaks down the ways the vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna  and Johnson and Johnson are different and it comes down to how they are made. 

“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made using messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers a bit of genetic code to cells…a recipe to make the surface protein (known as spike) on the SARS-2 virus.”

These proteins made with mRNA instructions, STAT says, “activate the immune system, teaching it to see the spike protein as foreign and develop antibodies and other immunity weapons with which to fight it.”

The J&J vaccine was engineered with a “different approach.” it involves instructing human cells to make the SARS-2 spike protein, which “triggers” an immune response, STAT explains.  It is a “viral vectored vaccine,” an adenovirus, which causes common colds, and “once the adenovirus enters cells, they use that code to make spike proteins.”

The J&J vaccine has used the same approach for the COVID-19 vaccine as it did with the Ebola vaccine.

When will it be here?

By next week, 3 to 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine could be rolling out pending FDA approval.

Here’s more on how the Johnson and Johnson vaccine works.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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