The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose, which should make a difference in the speed of rollout and help us to vaccinate 200 million people in 2021, the European Commission says/Photo: European Commission

EU approves fourth vaccine against COVID-19

The coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson can now also be used in the European Union. The vaccine was approved by the EU Commission on Thursday, as President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter. “More safe and effective vaccines are coming to the market.,” von der Leyen wrote. It is the fourth vaccine against covid-19 approved in the EU.

The Commission thus followed a recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which had examined the vaccine in detail. The regulatory authority, based in Amsterdam, granted the vaccine a conditional marketing authorisation for all EU countries.

“With this fourth vaccine, the EU will see the delivery of vaccines substantially accelerate as of the second quarter of 2021,” the Commission said.

The EU Commission has ordered vaccine doses for 200 million people from the US manufacturer. Germany would receive 36.7 million of these. There are fears that the company would not be able to deliver on time, among other things because the vaccine is made in the USA, where there is effectively an export ban on coronavirus vaccines. However, the manufacturer has promised to deliver from April.

The vaccine was developed in the Netherlands by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen. It has some advantages over the previously approved vaccines made by Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and Astrazeneca. Namely:

  • Single use: It only needs to be injected once.
  • Easy storage: Refrigerator temperature is sufficient for the safe storage of the vaccine. Therefore, in the view of the development organisation One, it is also very suitable for poorer countries.
  • Efficacy: According to the manufacturer, it is about 66 percent. But in the case of severe Covid-19 disease, the protection in the studies was more than 85 percent – and this also applies to the elderly.
  • Mild side effects: Some trial subjects had reported mild vaccination reactions: Headache, fever, fatigue, muscle pain and redness at the injection site.
  • Efficacy against variants: In studies in South Africa and Brazil, the efficacy was 81.7 and 87.6 percent, respectively. Thus, the vaccine of the US company also seems to be effective against the South African and Brazilian virus variants.
  • Vector vaccine: A so-called adenovirus normally triggers a common cold, but has been modified so that it cannot reproduce. Via the vector, genetic instructions are transmitted to the cells to produce a certain protein of the Covid-19 pathogen Sars-CoV2. In this way, the immune system is prepared to fight the real coronavirus.

Sola Jolaoso

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