The Janssen Biotech COVID-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. Many individuals refer to this latest vaccine as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the EUA was issued to Janssen Biotech Inc., of which Johnson & Johnson is the parent company.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, the Janssen vaccine is a “vector” vaccine and it is administered as a single dose. A vector is a modified version of a different (harmless) virus that is used to deliver genetic instructions to the host. The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured using an adenovirus (Ad26). Ad26 delivers a piece of the DNA that codes for the distinctive “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the body’s cells. The response is similar to that occurring with the mRNA vaccines: the cell’s genetic machinery produces the (harmless) COVID-19 spike protein, which triggers an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
Among 40,000 study participants, the Janssen vaccine produced protection against several concerning SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Wuhan-H1 variant D614G (predominant in the US), the B.1.351 variant (predominant in South Africa), and a P.2 variant (predominant in Brazil). Effectiveness (by country) has been reported as the prevention of moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days and 28 days after vaccination, respectively:
• US: 74.4% and 72% effective
• South Africa: 52.0% and 64.0% effective
• Brazil: 66.2% and 68.1% effective
Similar to mRNA vaccines, the most commonly reported side effects with the Janssen vaccine were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these effects were mild to moderate and lasted 1-2 days.
Storage requirements are a major advantage of the Janssen vaccine. It can be stored unopened at 36°F to 46°F, rather than frozen. At temperatures of 47°F to 77°F, it can be stored for up to 12 hours (or 6 hours if opened).
The full EUA prescribing information is available at: EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION (EUA) OF THE JANSSEN COVID-19 VACCINE TO PREVENT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19)
Check the RxConsultant.com website later this month for an online 1 hour CE program covering all 3 currently available COVID-19 vaccines.