With third vaccine in sight, doctors see light at end of tunnel in fight against COVID-19

ATLANTA — A third COVID-19 vaccine could be available in the United States by next week, and experts said it’s just what we need.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine has a “favorable safety profile” with “no specific safety concerns,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

It works differently, though, compared to Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be as good as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at preventing cases. However, the cases that do arise are mild,” said public health microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke.

Clinical trials from Johnson & Johnson showed the vaccine to be 85% effective at preventing severe cases.

The FDA reports that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths.

“What this does is really kind of level the playing field. So that, you know, this becomes something more manageable, where we’re not seeing hospitals being overrun. And we’re not seeing these massive spikes and deaths,” Schmidtke said.

Patrick O’Carroll with the Atlanta-based The Task Force for Global Health told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson that he is excited about how much simpler a one-dose vaccine is to manage.

“At some point, the vaccine is effective enough to stop spread if you get everybody vaccinated,” O’Carroll said.

TRENDING STORIES:

He said shipping to rural areas becomes easier.

“A single-dose vaccine that doesn’t require extraordinarily cold refrigeration is really something we need,” O’Carroll said.

An FDA vaccine advisory panel meets Friday to talk about whether to recommend emergency use authorization. The FDA could choose to authorize it as early as Saturday.

The company aims to have 20 million doses shipped by the end of March and 100 million doses shipped by the end of June.

“We’re prepared,” said Dr. Richard Nettles with Johnson & Johnson. “The doses will go farther. More people vaccinated with the same number of doses.”

Another vaccine in the mix is encouraging for people like Phil Rosenthal.

He remembers the feeling of being rejected for a second dose for weeks until he found one in a county he didn’t live in.

“This is a little scary, not knowing whether or not I’ll be able to get a second dose,” Rosenthal said.

He hopes for fewer headaches for others as Gov. Brian Kemp plans to expand eligibility by next month.

“What it would do is it would free up other people who haven’t gotten a shot yet to take that other vaccine,” Rosenthal said.