Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot Covid-19 Vaccine 85% Effective Against Virus 

Johnson & Johnson announced some promising news this week, claiming that their single-shot Covid-19 vaccine is proving to be 66% effective at preventing symptomatic disease and 85% effective against preventing severe illness. 

Dr. Mathai Mammen is the global head of Janssen Research & Development who spoke with the media about how “elated and joyful” the room was when the team of scientists concluded those percentages. 

“We’re a single shot and now we’ve produced data that says our vaccine is highly effective. 85% against severe Covid and 100% effective against hospitalization or death.”

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Mammen continued to claim that “we’ve had the objective of producing a vaccine for the world, that is easily used, is easily distributed and it works against preventing the form of COVID-19 that people care about, meaning an illness that can make you severely sick at home and lead to hospitalization or death. The vaccine is safe, volunteers experienced mild reactions after the shot, with less than 10% experiencing fever.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it will consider any vaccine that’s more than 50% effective, and since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now surpassing that threshold, the Administration will likely review the data and place an emergency use authorization on it to begin distribution before the end of February. 

The US is currently projected to receive up to 300 million vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, which would almost vaccinate the entire population. With the release of another vaccine option, the country will be more than set for achieving herd immunity by the end of the Summer as the Biden Administration is already predicting. 

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“With its single-shot administration and more convenient transportation and storage requirements,  this vaccine really is a workhorse vaccine. We’re delighted to see that this vaccine has good efficacy against mild disease [and] outstanding efficacy against severe disease … [in] all geographic regions studied,” said Dr. Dan Barouch of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who collaborated with Johnson & Johnson in the development of the vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial was composed of more than 44,000 volunteers from a variety of countries, just like the other vaccine trials. This way the company could see if the vaccine impacted certain demographics differently than others, and like Pfizer and Moderna they luckily found that it didn’t, and was equally as effective for everyone. 

“So, this is probably the single most exciting result in our entire clinical study that we have 85% protection against severe COVID, irrespective of where in the world you’re talking about and what kind of variants you’re talking about,” Mammen said.

Johnson & Johnson is currently planning studies in children and pregnant women to really ensure the vaccine is safe for those more vulnerable groups. If the FDA provides emergency use authorization to the company, they claim that they could distribute 100 million doses to the US by June.

Glass Covid Vaccine Bottles

President Biden Announces Purchase Of 200 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses 

President Joe Biden announced a slew of executive orders and measures this week that are aimed at ramping up Covid-19 vaccine allocation and distribution. Part of the measures include the purchasing of 200 million more vaccine doses and increased distribution to states by millions of doses beginning next week. 

With those additional doses Biden said that the US has now acquired enough vaccines to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall; that’s nearly the entire population in America. When he announced the acquisition of the additional doses he referred to combating the Covid-19 pandemic as a “wartime undertaking,” especially considering the mess that he was left with from the previous administration. 

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“We now have a national strategy to beat Covid-19. It’s comprehensive, it’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it’s detailed.”

The deal entails the US purchasing 100 million more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 million more from Moderna as well; the only two drugmakers with approved vaccines in the US. The two-dose vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration will hopefully be joined by other vaccines from the handful of other developers around the world nearing completion of their vaccine trials. 

However, as it currently stands the US can potentially get by with just the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine options. The new purchase will increase the current Covid-19 vaccine supply from 400 million to 600 million, according to an official working within the Biden administration. The President also committed to increasing weekly vaccine supplies for certain states, tribes, and territories; upping the amount of minimum doses distributed weekly to 10 million. 

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Biden’s Covid coordinator, Jeff Zients, informed governors this Tuesday that the Covid vaccine allocations for states will begin increasing by around 16% starting next week. The President claims that the US will soon be able to vaccinate up to 1.5 million people every day, and the nation could surpass that initial target after three weeks if all goes to plan. 

So far there have been around 22.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered to Americans. Biden’s initial goal was to get 100 million Americans fully vaccinated within his first 100 days in office, and with this new promise of increased distribution, he should have no issue meeting that goal. 

3.3 million Americans have received their second, and therefore final, dose of the Covid-19 vaccine treatment as of Tuesday evening. The President claimed that ensuring facilities have enough of the vaccine, syringes, and other necessary equipment/staff to administer the vaccines will be top priority along with this increased production. 

Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office that would speed up the development and distribution of these supplies. He claimed that the worst part of his current administration’s plan is the fact that they’re essentially starting from scratch after 421,000+ Americans have already died. “The sad part is the last administration didn’t leave anything, didn’t even leave a plan.” However, Biden and his administration are confident that within the coming months more and more Americans will be vaccinated and life can begin to feel a little normal again. 

Coronavirus Vaccine in Bottles

First ‘Milestone’ Coronavirus Vaccine Offers 90% Protection 

Pfizer and BioNTech described today as a “great day for science and humanity,” as they announced their vaccine for the coronavirus is the first of its kind that can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, after a preliminary analysis. 

The vaccine itself has been tested on more than 43,500 people across six different countries without any major safety concerns emerging. The companies are now planning to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the year and begin to minimize the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic once and for all. 

Dr Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer who worked alongside some of the scientists working on the vaccine, claimed that after the announcement was made that the vaccine was 90% effective there was not one scientist in the room that wasn’t “smiling ear to ear,” with some suggesting they could see life “returning to normal by the spring.” 

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“We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”

A vaccine has been seen as the best way for the world to return to a sense of normalcy and no longer need the many restrictions that we’ve all gotten used to within the past nine months. Within the past few months there have been a little over a dozen vaccines in their final stages of testing. This final stage is known as “phase 3” and is one of the most critical parts of vaccine development as that’s when it’s mass tested. 

This specific vaccine uses an experimental approach that injects part of the virus’s genetic code into the patient to “train” the immune system into learning what the virus looks like so the body can attack it. Two doses, three weeks apart, are needed. The trials took place in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey and showed  90% protection being achieved seven days after the second dose.

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Pfizer claims it will be able to supply 50 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. The UK will likely get 10 million doses by the end of the year with another 30 million already pre-ordered. 

This development, however, doesn’t give us a clear picture of when this pandemic will specifically end, but instead a more hopeful look into the future of 2021. Hospital staff, healthcare workers, and other prioritized populations will likely be vaccinated first as they are the most at risk for contracting and spreading the virus. Face masks and social distancing will likely be a part of our lives for quite some time until even distribution of the vaccine is achieved. ‘

Pfizer and BioNTech claim that they will have enough data by the third week of November to make a case to regulators for distribution. While that may mean it could still be months before the general public sees a vaccine hit the market, this milestone is a huge step in the right direction for a world that has been stuck inside since March.

Coronavirus Vaccine Bottle

Scientists Aren’t Convinced A “Warp Speed” Vaccine Will End The Pandemic

The American people, along with the rest of the world, are placing their hopes of defeating Covid-19 and ending this pandemic on a vaccine. There are multiple trials occurring around the world all at different stages, and while a safe and effective vaccine is top priority, time is also a factor considering this virus is continuing to infect and kill people.

Clinical vaccine trials are mainly meant to show whether a Covid-19 vaccine candidate will prevent any symptoms of the disease. The trials typically study between 30,000 to 60,000 volunteers, and some scientists are worried that the time spent on these trials will be too brief and too small to prove if the vaccine can actually prevent individuals from being hospitalized and dying, instead of just preventing a sore throat. 

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The United States specifically should wait for the most optimal vaccine to be on the international market, according to Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

“There’s a tension between getting every piece of information and getting a vaccine out in time to save lives. Would we like to know if the vaccine reduces illness or mortality? Of course. But there is a real time pressure. This is a pandemic. It’s explosive.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting this Thursday to discuss how rigorously Covid-19 vaccine candidates would need to be tested before the US considered them safe enough for distribution. “Simply preventing mild cases is not enough and may not justify the risks associated with vaccination,” said Peter Doshi, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

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On the other hand researchers also know that vaccines that prevent mild versions of a disease typically prevent the more severe version of the disease as well, so there are still good reasons to focus on studies involving milder cases of Covid-19. For example, according to Doshi, the original trials for a measles vaccine showed that it only prevented the virus itself, but not hospitalizations or deaths. Later studies, however, showed that the vaccine drastically reduced mortality, and according to the World Health Organization worldwide deaths from the measles fell by 73% in between 2000 and 2018 due to vaccines. 

In general, proving a vaccine can prevent severe illness and death is much harder than showing it can protect against mild illness, because hospitalizations and deaths are more rare. Individuals who volunteer for vaccine trials are also typically on the healthier side. 

“We’re probably not going to have the perfect vaccine. But I do think we’re likely to have vaccines that, if we can show they’re safe, can put an inflection point on this pandemic. … I think it’s still important to have a vaccine that has some effect even on mild illness.”

As it currently stands the Covid-19 pandemic has infected 8.7 million people in the US alone, and the mortality rate is about .6%. Leading scientists believe that the ideal vaccine will provide a sterilizing immunity front he virus. This would mean that the injection would prevent all symptoms of Covid-19 as well as secondary infections that could typically occur from the virus. Trials are projected to grow almost 10 times the sizes they are now as the months progress, and like any vaccine, the world won’t truly know how well it works until it’s actually here. 

Corona Vaccine

University Of Maryland Joins In Most Advanced Covid-19 Vaccine Trial In America

The University Of Maryland’s School of Medicine is joining 30 other US centers that have begun recruiting thousands of citizens currently living in Covid-19 hot spots throughout the country. The goal is to get as many volunteers as possible to participate in what’s being called the most advanced trial for a vaccine against Covid-19. 

The vaccine was developed by Moderna, a Massachusetts biotech company who has been working with the National Institutes of Health on a vaccine since the beginning of this pandemic; it’s among several other vaccines throughout the world that are entering into Phase 3 of development. This specific trial in the US will be the first one to run under ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ a federal program that will hopefully be able to quickly identify, make, and distribute over 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine whenever one does get approved. 

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The trial will use around 30,000 volunteers after initial tests showed that the vaccine is safe and effective when administered among smaller groups. Dr. Matthew Laurens is one of the lead investigators at the University of Maryland, who claims that the biggest goal is finding a cure, but initial plans are to at least slow the rapid spreading in the US. 

“We hope it stops 100% of transmissions, but if it decreases the severity of the disease, that’s important for public health. At the end of the day, if it saves lives, that’s what’s most important.”

Five of the 27 active human trials throughout the world are in phase 3 of testing. Others are closely behind in terms of development, and many other treatments and therapies that can be used to slow the spread of the virus are also undergoing human trials. Again, the biggest goal is to save lives at any means possible. 

If the Moderna vaccine shows that it can successfully prevent an individual from being infected with Covid-19, officials believe it could be approved federally for mass distribution by mid-2021. The Moderna vaccine’s main claim is that by using messenger-RNA, their vaccine will be able to give our bodies immune system a “set of instructions” on how to create antibodies to fight the coronavirus, so that if the individual is infected, their body is already equipped to fight it off. 

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Pfizer Incorporated is a German biotech company that is also about to begin human trials on a messenger RNA vaccine; like in the US this trial is set to have up to 30,000 participants to ensure accuracy. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently spoke with the media about the incessant need for a vaccine, especially in America where so many individuals and businesses are actively ignoring health and safety procedures. 

“Although face coverings, physical distancing and proper isolation and quarantine of infected individuals and contacts can help us mitigate [coronavirus] spread, we urgently need a safe and effective preventive vaccine to ultimately control this pandemic.”

Moderna claims that if they’re successful with their vaccine it will cost around $32 – $37 per dose. The trial itself will consist of researchers drawing blood from volunteers and then administering two separate doses of the Covid-19 vaccine four weeks apart. Half will receive the actual vaccine while the other half will receive a placebo. All participants are encouraged to continue to stay home, wear masks, and maintain social distancing when in public spaces. 

Participants will also have to keep a daily journal of any symptoms or side effects they may be experiencing from the vaccine. The researchers will be doing weekly check-ins with everyone, but anyone who’s showing signs of Covid-19 will be immediately tested and given proper treatment if necessary. Researchers plan to follow this group for the next two years to see how long their immunity actually lasts, so for now, like always, it’s more of a waiting game. 

Vaccine Syringe

Dr. Fauci Worried Covid-19 Vaccine Won’t Lead To Herd Immunity In America

Dr. Anthony Fauci says that he would definitely settle for a Covid-19 vaccine that’s only 75% effective as a means of slowing down the spread of the virus, however, the fact that many Americans already claim that they won’t get a coronavirus vaccine makes it “unlikely” that the US will reach a level of collective immunity that would expel the virus from the country. 

“The best we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 percent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will. I would settle for a 70, 75% effective vaccine.”

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With government support currently three coronavirus vaccines are projected to be studied in large-scale clinical trials within the next three months throughout the world. In a recent media poll, one-third of Americans said they would not try to get vaccinated against Covid, even if the vaccine was cheap and widely distributed. 

The main concern right now isn’t how effective the vaccine itself is going to be, as we haven’t seen enough trial data yet, but instead the lack of herd immunity that will result if one-third of the country refuses to be vaccinated. Herd immunity is defined as when a sufficient number of individuals in a given population are immune to an infectious disease, making spread from person to person unlikely. Immunity isn’t necessarily equivalent to being vaccinated either, as we know, many individuals throughout the world are either asymptomatic or completely immune from the coronavirus. 

Fauci claimed that “there is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country — an alarmingly large percentage of people, relatively speaking.”

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The anti-vaccination movement is much larger than most realize and while certain states, such as New York, require individuals to be vaccinated if they’re in a public school setting, not enough enforcement is in place nationwide. Fauci went on to explain that they have an extensive program in the making that will be relatable to community members in an attempt to get them to consider vaccination once it’s available. The program, however, is in the preliminary stages. 

Fauci continued to state that every state would receive a different letter grade when asked if he could grade America’s response to the pandemic. “Some states are going to be A+, some A, and some are a C.” He didn’t name any specific states, however, he alluded that all the states where you see large gatherings of people who aren’t wearing masks were creating a recipe for disaster for themselves. 

Until the world sees a real vaccine, one of the number one ways to slow down the spread of the virus from an executive standpoint is contact tracing. Public health officials have been trying to contain certain outbreaks of Covid-19 by isolating infected people and extensively interviewing them about who they’ve had contact with while they were infectious. 

However, Fauci says the US is barely practicing contact tracing especially when compared to countries like China and Japan. He also claims that contact tracing is difficult because a lot of individuals who contract Covid-19 are asymptomatic, so they don’t even realize they’re sick. For now, he encourages everyone to continue to quarantine, wear a mask if you’re out in public and continue to socially distance.

Doctor with Coronavirus Vaccine

Researchers Predict Covid-19 Vaccine Will Require Two-Doses To Be Effective

Researchers and scientists alike are predicting that when a vaccine treatment is developed for the coronavirus, it likely will be two-dose series. The two doses will likely occur a month apart with the possibility of another booster shot several years into the future. 

We still don’t know a lot about the virus that causes Covid-19; specifically referred to as SARS-CoV-2 by experts. Scientists all across the globe are working on dozens of potential vaccines for the coronavirus, and now that many are getting close to a breakthrough, they’re also able to better understand what the treatment itself will look like. 

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The two doses are a direct result of that lack of knowledge. Since this is a newly emerged virus that no one person has developed full on immunization/antibodies for, two vaccine doses would provide that extra level of protection. This practice occurs a lot with new vaccines, for example, when the gardasil treatment to prevent HPV first emerged a little over a decade ago, it started as a three dose treatment, and has remained as such to this day because doctors realized those three doses protect the body from most strains of HPV. 

Multiple strains of Covid-19 are obviously another major concern, so like the HPV vaccine treatment, doctors want to ensure they have as many bases covered as possible. The first shot would prime the patient’s immune system by giving it a small dose of the virus’ antibody so that the body’s immune system can recognize it. The second shot would do the same thing with an even higher dose of antibodies to allow your body to really fight it off. 

“Of the more than 100 vaccine candidates in various stages of testing, almost all are expected to be a two-dose regime. As far as I am aware, with one set of exceptions, all the front-line vaccine developers are contemplating two shots. The one exception is Merck, which last week pushed forward on two vaccines, each of which they hoped would be one-shot vaccines,” said Barry Bloom, an immunologist and professor of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

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Successful vaccine treatments obviously won’t be available until human trials begin and healthcare experts can really see how this virus, the vaccine, and the average person’s body reacts. One of the other main concerns is if two doses will even be enough to provide proper immunization against Covid-19. It’s unclear as to whether or not this vaccine treatment will work like the measles vaccine and everyone only has to get it once every several years, or if it’ll be more like the flu shot where it needs to be annually updated. 

Bloom claims that based on the research they have now, it’s more so looking like the vaccine will remain effective for several years before an individual has to get another booster shot. It’s mainly dependent on the individual’s antibody response, as some people with pre-existing respiratory/auto-immune illnesses may need to get the booster earlier than others. 

“In the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, immunity tends to last from three to six months to almost always less than a year. It may be completely different with this coronavirus, with SARS-CoV-2, it may be that they induce a response that’s quite durable. But if it acts like other common coronaviruses, it’s not likely going to be a very long duration of immunity,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview.

There may be no way around a two-dose vaccine, however, compared to what the world is currently enduring, two shots a year sounds like child’s play. These facilities are working tirelessly everyday to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible, so for now, make sure you’re continuing to listen to your healthcare experts about how to practice proper hygiene and social distancing.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Bill Gates Says We’ll Get A Coronavirus Vaccine In ‘As Little As 9 Months’

Bill Gates has been heavily involved in the coronavirus pandemic through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, alongside his wife, which has pledged up to $100 million to go towards Covid-19 relief.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Human Trials For Covid-19 Vaccine Begins At Oxford University

The first human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine have begun in Oxford. Two volunteer patients were injected this week, and 800 more individuals will also be given the vaccine within the next few weeks as a part of the study. Half of the participants will be injected with the Covid-19 vaccine and the other half will receive a control vaccine that protects them from meningitis, but not the coronavirus. The design of the trial study makes it so each volunteer is unaware of which vaccine they’re receiving; the doctors obviously do know, however.

“Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine. Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population,” said Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute who led the pre-clinical research for the study. 

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The vaccine itself was developed in under three months by a team of researchers and scientists at Oxford University. According to the scientists who worked on it, the vaccine is made from a weakened version of a strain of the common cold virus; which is known as an adenovirus. They took this specific virus from chimpanzees and modified it so that it would be able to grow in humans. 

To put it simply, scientists have taken genes found on the surface of the coronavirus and added them to the adenovirus that they took from the chimpanzees. Scientists then inject this combination into the patient where it will begin to enter their cells and produce the coronavirus gene. As this process begins, the patient’s immune system should begin producing antibodies and activate killer T-cells to destroy all cells with that specific Covid-19 gene sequence. This is basically the same thing that happens in your body when you get a flu shot. 

The goal is that the vaccine works exactly like a flu shot in the sense that whenever an individual who’s been vaccinated is exposed to the coronavirus, their body’s immune system will be equipped to fight it off. 

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The same team running this trial developed a vaccine against MERS, another type of the coronavirus, using this same approach, hence the confidence from Gilbert and the rest of the team. The only real way that they’ll know if it works, however, is to compare the number of individuals who become infected within the coming months. The biggest concern is that cases in general will begin to decline in the UK which would give the scientists less data to work on the vaccine with. 

The researchers are prioritizing local healthcare workers to be their test subjects, as those are the individuals that are most likely to be exposed to the virus. Within the next two months, the team hopes to start a much larger trial of about 5,000 individuals instead of 800. In terms of timelines and when this vaccine could actually be distributed, Gilbert says only time will tell. 

“It’s not really our role to dictate what will happen, we just have to try to get a vaccine that works and have enough of it and then it will be for others to decide. We’ve got to ensure we have enough doses to provide for those in greatest need, not just in the UK but also in developing countries.”

This team at Oxford luckily has a fund of over 40 million pounds to work with on further research and trial developments. While this entire pandemic has been a waiting game in terms of updates, it seems as though this team of scientists is on the right track and has the necessary resources to remain on course. Gilbert is hoping the world sees a Covid-19 vaccine as early as fall 2020.