I have heard that the J&J vaccine is not as good as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Is this true?
Absolutely not true!
Many people are hearing the term “72% efficient” and comparing this to the “90-95% efficient” that was reported with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It is important to understand that neither of these vaccines were done at the same time period or in the same populations.
The J&J vaccine reported at their FDA Emergency Use Authorization hearing that their vaccine was 85% effective against severe COVID-19 globally; and 72% effective against moderate-severe/critical COVID in the United States. It is important to put these numbers into context.
The J&J vaccine is only 1 dose (compared to the Pfizer/Moderna 2-dose vaccination regimen). Janssen also conducted their clinical trials later and in a number of countries that had a high prevalence of COVID-19 variants including Brazil and South Africa. So it is actually pretty incredible that this one-dose vaccine has had such great efficacy in the setting of these variants! We don’t know the efficacy of the Moderna/Pfizer vaccines with these variants as their clinical trials were conducted before these were an issue.
But most importantly: ALL of the available vaccines prevented hospitalization and death from COVID-19. This is the most important endpoint.
The J&J vaccine is also extremely easy to distribute quickly: it is a single dose; it can be stored for months at a normal refrigerator temperature and can be stored for years if frozen; and it can ship within the existing infrastructure. And in order to minimize the emergence of more COVID variants, we need to get more shots in arms! So the J&J vaccine is an extremely valuable and effective vaccine to have!