LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The reinforcements may be on the way in the world’s fight against COVID-19.
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson applied Thursday with the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for the company’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
J&J’s vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results from a massive international study.
J&J’s vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine. It works by taking a piece of DNA from the COVID-19 spike protein and injecting it into an adenovirus, a type of virus typically involved in a common cold. However, in this case, the adenovirus has been genetically modified so that it cannot replicate, and can only act as a carrier, or vector.
The combination of vector virus and COVID-19 DNA is then injected into the body, where human cells read the COVID-19 DNA and begin replicating the spike proteins. The human immune system then recognizes those spike proteins and destroys them.
“You’re not going to get an infection from the vaccine, adenovirus or COVID from the viral vector vaccines,” Norton Healthcare Louisville Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Paul Schulz said.
Those products use RNA instead of DNA, a slightly different genetic code. Those products take RNA from the COVID-19 spike protein, mix it in lipid solution, and inject it into the human cells. The body recognizes the code (mRNA) and begins replicating the spikes. Again, the human immune system recognizes and destroys them.
In all three vaccines, the immune system remember what the spikes look like and how to destroy them, making fighting off a real infection easier.
“Somewhere along the line, you know, there are similar activities taking place,” Schulz said. “It’s a difference in starting point, maybe.”
Though the number seem to differ, Dr. Schulz told our sister station WAVE 3 News all three vaccines thus far have proven 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.
“I think the best vaccine is the one you have a chance to get,” Schulz said. “During a pandemic, you don’t want to be too choosy about what vaccine you get to the point that you end up delaying immunization in a significant amount of people.”
The FDA is asking its independent advisers to publicly debate all the data behind the single-dose shot — just like its competitors were put under the microscope — before it decides whether to green light a third vaccine option in the U.S.
The panel will meet Feb. 26.
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