Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help boost slow vaccination rollout if emergency use granted

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another vaccine could soon be in the mix to help fight off the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world's first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson files emergency use authorization application for COVID-19 vaccine

If granted emergency use approval, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is likely to have a big impact on what has been a slow vaccine rollout.

"In the city of Chicago, we are getting like 35,000 doses a week," said Dr. William Parker, a UChicago Medicine Medical Ethicist & Pulmonary Critical Care Specialist. "It would be nice to see that double, or triple and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help that."

Unlike the two other vaccine options from Moderna and Pfizer, the J & J vaccine is simpler to store, which transportation experts said would likely streamline the supply chain.

"In many cases, it can go directly to the final destination on where it's being administered," said Hani Mahmassani, Northwestern University Transportation Center Director.

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The J & J vaccine has proved to be 72% effective in the United States, however that effectiveness is lower in countries where COVID variants are circulating. While it is less effective than the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines, the vaccine does protect people from severe illness and death.

The CDC has yet to offer guidelines on the groups who should get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"At the end of the day, the way we should think about allocating this vaccine is to maximize the number of lives being saved and that is targeting the populations at the highest risk and getting vaccination rates up," Dr. Parker said.

ABC's Dr. Jen Ashton explains the phase 3 results of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial

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ABC's Dr. Jen Ashton explains the phase 3 results of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Dr. Parker said he's hopeful the J & J vaccine will help increase vaccinations on Chicago's south and west sides where COVID-19 deaths have been the highest.

The end of February is the earliest the FDA is expected to grant emergency use.

In the meantime, the Biden administration announced Friday it is using the Defense Production Act to help Pfizer produce its vaccine more quickly.
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