The J&J vaccine is a bit different than the two already in use in the US. Most importantly, it only requires one dose and is easier to handle, because it can be kept at simple refrigerator temperatures for up to three months. That makes its rollout a lot easier compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
The technology is different too. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a brand-new technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. They deliver genetic material directly into cells, which then follow the genetic instructions to make tiny pieces that look like a part of the coronavirus. Those little proteins stimulate an immune response, generating antibodies and immune cells that “remember” what they look like and that will be ready to respond quickly in case of a fresh attack.
The J&J vaccine has shown efficacy of 72% in the US and offered 86% protection against severe forms of the disease in the country. Moderna’s and Pfizer efficacy rate in clinical trials was 94% to 95%.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
It is true that in trials, the overall global efficacy of the J&J vaccine was 66% against moderate to severe illness and 85% against severe disease. In the US, the vaccine showed efficacy of 72%. Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna had efficacy rates of 94% to 95%.
But experts say these numbers can be misleading. The three vaccines have not been compared head to head, so it would be impossible to know if one is better than the other. The trials were different too. Pfizer’s vaccine was tested in 43,000 people in the US, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina. Moderna’s was tested in 30,000 people, all of them in the US.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
The people paying a heavy price for telling the truth about Covid in China
Chen Mei was detained in China last April and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after sharing articles about the coronavirus on a crowd-sourced repository on GitHub.
He is among a number of truthtellers the Chinese government has allegedly tried to silence for sharing information that diverges from the official narrative, information that activists allege Beijing wants wiped from the collective consciousness.
Everything old is new again: Repurposing drugs to treat Covid-19
There are several approaches to make the match between a disease and a potential treatment. They include translational research, which involves finding out what goes wrong on the cellular level with a given disease and seeing if there is an existing drug that fixes the problem. There’s also high throughput drug screening, which is basically testing different drugs in a petri dish with patients’ cells and seeing what happens. Artificial intelligence can also be used to find previously unknown connections between disease processes and medications.
How one country slipped into a Covid disaster, one misstep at a time
ON OUR RADAR
- The US House passed their version of the Covid-19 stimulus bill, a key part of President Biden’s agenda to combat the pandemic’s economic impacts. It now moves to the Senate.
- Canada is set to receive 6.5 million Covid-19 vaccines by the end of March.
- Japan only started inoculating its population of 126 million people last week, more than two months after the vaccine rolled out in other major countries. Here’s why.
- Covid-19 vaccines were allegedly stolen, expired and inappropriately administered in a Tennessee county, a state investigation has found.
- The US Supreme Court has once again sided with houses of worship in dispute over Covid restrictions.
- “Saturday Night Live” opened with Kate McKinnon’s Dr. Anthony Fauci hosting a new game show called “So You Think You Can Get The Vaccine.”
It’s a simple enough concept. People cough, sneeze or simply breathe out particles constantly. If a person is infected with any virus — including a coronavirus — viral particles can be carried out on droplets that can become suspended in the air. In a closed room — such as classroom — those particles will build up and others will breathe them in.
“I think the narrative about herd immunity keeps cropping up again because it would be nice if Covid-19’s gone forever. But, of course, if we can reduce death and suffering by 95%, then that’s way more important than herd immunity.” — Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME