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Deciding which vaccine is best: doctors say availability is top concern

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 8:24 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A single shot of hope -- Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine could seek emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration as early as next week.

“We have to take any vaccine news as positive news at this point because it gives us hope that we’re getting toward at least a brighter point,” said Dr. David Byers, an infectious disease specialist at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

The first one-shot COVID-19 vaccine provides good protection against the illness, Johnson & Johnson reported in a key study released Friday -- offering to help ease the burden on the supply chain if given emergency authorization.

Johnson & Johnson’s phase 3 trial results found that the vaccine was 85% effective overall at preventing severe disease, which included illnesses requiring hospitalization. The data came from more than 44,000 participants in the U.S., South Africa, and several Latin American countries.

With another vaccine option soon available, many are asking which one is the best?

“They all seem to be a huge leap forward in they seem to be highly effective,” Dr. Byers said.

It’s not fair to compare studies done before the record surges of recent months and the discovery of new mutants, doctors are saying it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

“We don’t have any data that says compared head-to-head is better than the other, but we do have data to say all these vaccines are helpful at preventing the most important outcome, which is someone getting severely ill or dying,” Dr. Byers said. “With that in mind, it’s more important that we take a vaccine that’s available than worry not getting it because it’s not the vaccine you want.”

J&J studied its one-dose option in 44,000 people in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa. Interim results found the shot 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and much more protective — 85% — against the most serious symptoms. There were no serious side effects.

The vaccine worked better in the U.S. — 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 — compared with 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, where a more contagious mutant virus is spreading.

J&J expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by June, but hasn’t released how much could be ready if the Food and Drug Administration gives the green light.

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