The US on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the country a third shot to battle the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
The single-shot vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including against newer variants, the US Food and Drug Administration said.
“This is exciting news for all Americans, and an encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
However, he urged Americans to remain vigilant with anti-virus curbs, such as social distancing, saying that new variants of the virus still posed a threat.
“But we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable,” he said.
A third vaccine is seen as a vital means to ramp up the immunization rate in the US, where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19.
In large clinical trials, the J&J vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease was 85.9 percent in the US, 81.7 percent in South Africa and 87.6 percent in Brazil.
Overall, among 39,321 participants across all regions, the efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 85.4 percent, but it fell to 66.1 percent when including moderate forms of the disease.
Analyses of various demographic groups revealed no marked differences across age, ethnicity or people with underlying conditions.
The J&J vaccine is the third to be approved in the US after Pfizer Inc’s and Moderna Inc’s were provisionally approved in December last year.
More than 65 million people in the US have so far received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
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