A panel of experts recommended Friday that the Food and Drug Administration approve emergency use of Johnson & Johnson's new coronavirus vaccine. After the panel's 22-0 advisory vote, authorization could be granted by the FDA over the weekend, the Washington Post reports, putting the first few million doses on track for distribution next week. It would be the third vaccine available in the US to help stop the spread of the illness and the first to require only one dose to be effective. While the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines already in use need to be kept colder, the Johnson & Johnson product can be stored for months at regular refrigerator temperatures, per CNBC. The new vaccine's reduced requirements make it "operationally easier in lots of contexts," a CDC expert said Friday.
Data the company submitted to the FDA early this month showed its vaccine to be 72% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 in the US. On Friday, Johnson & Johnson stressed to the panel that the success rate of the product—made by its vaccine division, Janssen—against severe cases was 85%. That rate held in parts of the world where new variants of the coronavirus have surfaced, as well; severe cases are the most worrisome. "We’re in a race between the virus mutating, new variants coming out that can cause further disease, and stopping it," a medical school professor on the panel said, per CNN. "We need to get this vaccine out." The federal government has already ordered 100 million doses. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)