Kristine Ende works in the positive air pressure clean room at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where Phase 3 trials of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine were conducted. Courtesy of Tribune News Service

(TNS) Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine protects against COVID-19 and is safe to use, according to a federal analysis released Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The report confirms the vaccine is about 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, paving the way for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorization within the week.

The analysis also found the vaccine has an 86% efficacy rate against severe forms of COVID-19 in the United States, and 82% in South Africa. The effectiveness in South Africa is particularly significant because that country is experiencing a worrisome COVID-19 variant.

Early study results showed no hospitalizations or deaths starting 28 days after vaccination.

The analysis indicates the vaccine was safe, with noticeably milder side effects than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and without any reports of severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.

The next step occurs Friday, with a public meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which will debate whether to recommend that authorization. The FDA is expected to issue a final decision within days after that.

If granted, the J&J would be the third vaccine available in the United States to immunize against COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received emergency use authorization in December.

The J&J vaccine has two big advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: It requires only one shot instead of two, and can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures for at least three months. The other two vaccines require storage at much lower temperatures and the Pfizer vaccine requires special freezers.

The downside of the J&J shot is that it won’t boost vaccine supplies significantly right away. Only a few million doses are expected to be ready for shipping in the first week.

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