The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that works with one dose, the AP reported. In addition to Moderna and Pfizer’s double-dose vaccine, this is the third vaccine approved to prevent the coronavirus in the U.S.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe infection and illness, and in a large study that spanned three continents, protection remained strong even in countries where the variants of most concern are spreading.
The news comes after the U.S. crossed a chilling milestone of more than 500,000 deaths related to the virus. Although cases have been dropping throughout the country and state officials are looking to loosen restrictions, concern remains with the U.K. variant and a new variant identified in New York that circumvents monoclonal antibody treatments and the body’s natural immune response.
“The more vaccines that have high efficacy that we can get into play, the better,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said ahead of the FDA’s ruling. Shipments of a few million doses will be divided among states as early as Monday. J&J said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S. by the end of March and 100 million by summer.
The company is also seeking authorization for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organization. J&J aims to produce approximately 1 billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use.