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Solving COVID

Johnson & Johnson says its COVID-19 vaccine is 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease

Johnson & Johnson has unveiled some highly-anticipated data on its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The company on Friday announced its vaccine candidate in a global trial was found to overall be 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, but 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease. In the United States, the company said the level of protection against moderate to severe illness was 72 percent, but in Latin America, it was 66 percent effective. It was also 57 percent effective in South Africa, where most of the COVID-19 cases were from the B.1.351 variant.

Johnson & Johnson's data had been particularly anticipated because, unlike the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have been approved in the United States, this candidate only requires one shot. The overall 66 percent efficacy rate wasn't as high as with either of those vaccines, which were each found to be about 95 percent effective, but that's still above the 50 percent level the FDA requires.

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health vaccine expert Jonathan Temte also told The Washington Post the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could still be a "game changer," especially since it can be stored at refrigerator temperature.

"Back in July and August, I was hoping we would see a vaccine that was 60 percent effective — in my mind, that would be great," Temte told the Post. "And now we have had two that have hit the ball out of the park and set expectations spectacularly high, and that's not fair because we don't need a home run all the times we're up to bat."

Johnson & Johnson also noted that in the the trial, the vaccine provided "complete protection against COVID-related hospitalization and death." The company plans to file with the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization within a week, The Associated Press reports, and it says it "expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization."