The World Health Organization on Friday added Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in the battle against COVID-19, as the first single-dose shot for emergency use in all countries and as part of a global vaccination rollout.
The vaccine will be the fourth added to the COVAX program, which is working to distribute COVID-19 vaccines more equitably among countries. The initiative has secured 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
COVAX has delivered about 30 million vaccine doses in 38 countries, Fox News reported, citing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He said an inequitable distribution of the vaccines is the biggest obstacle in overcoming the worldwide pandemic, noting 76% of about 335 million doses have been administered in just 10 countries.
“Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,” Mr. Tedros said in a statement. “But the hope offered by these tools will not materialize unless they are made available to all people in all countries. I urge governments and companies to live up to their commitments and to use all solutions at their disposal to ramp up production so that these tools become truly global public goods, available and affordable to all, and a shared solution to the global crisis.”
The Johnson & Johnson shot proved to be 85% effective against severe COVID-19 illness in a clinical trial involving more than 43,000 participants, the pharmaceutical giant said. The coronavirus vaccine proved to be 72% effective in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 in the U.S. and 66% in the larger worldwide trial.
The vaccine is easier to store than those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It can be stored at regular freezer temperatures for up to two years and at regular refrigeration temperatures of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for three months.
WHO also has approved for emergency use the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India.