We are days away from learning if America will soon have a third vaccine in the mix. US regulators on Wednesday announced that Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine is safe to receive and does indeed protect against COVID-19. The efficacy figure in this case is 66% when it comes to preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease, with the Washington Post reporting it was 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. As the AP explains, the finding by FDA scientists is just one step on the path to approval: On Friday, the independent advisers to the FDA will debate whether the evidence bears out a recommendation that the vaccine be approved, and the FDA will then make its final decision, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
NBC News reports authorization is expected, and the company expects it could provide 20 million shots by the end of March. The AP gives some good context about what the numbers show and what the implication of an approval would be: "While the overall effectiveness numbers may suggest the J&J candidate isn't quite as strong as two-dose competitors, all of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible. While it wouldn’t be surprising if one dose turns out to be a little weaker than two doses, policymakers will decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off to get more people vaccinated faster." In the US, about 44.5 million people have received one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and 20 million have received both shots. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)