UVA Critical Care and Infectious Disease physician, Taison Bell, says he was excited about the availability of the one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from J&J. He explains how the vaccine works and addresses concerns that people may have about the vaccine’s efficacy numbers.
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Transcript TAISON BELL, MD: My name is Taison Bell. I’m a critical care and infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia. I was personally excited to see the Johnson & Johnson vaccine news, and then trial that came out and I expected it to be authorized by the FDA. It has a couple of advantages. So the first one is that it uses a slightly different platform. So instead of the messenger RNA that Moderna and Pfizer uses, this one uses a viral vector and adenovirus. And that’s just a virus that causes the common cold, but it’s modified so that it doesn’t actually cause you to get sick.
What it does do is allows a piece of DNA, so in opposed to RNA. It’s a different vehicle, but the destination is the same. It’s teaching your body how to make the spike protein so that your body can make antibodies to it. And then later, if you get exposed to the coronavirus, you can rally the troops, get it out of there and prevent you from getting sick. So it works. The end game is the exact same.
Now what I’ve gotten a lot of questions about is, well, what do I make of these different efficacy numbers? So, the 66% efficacy versus the 94-95%. Now you could sit back, and say, if I got the Johnson & Johnson, why would I want to take that? If I’ve got the Pfizer, Moderna, that I could just wait a little bit longer for? Now, this is what I want to talk about. You know, what does efficacy mean? If we dig down deeper into that data for Johnson & Johnson, and we think, you know, what are the things that we care about.
People going to the hospital for COVID-19 with severe disease, people dying from COVID-19 from severe disease. They actually stack up pretty well against each other. So the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for the 28 day period, before it takes for the vaccine to take full effect, from that point on, there were no people who went to the hospital with COVID-19. Absolutely zero. People who died from COVID-19, absolutely zero.