New Covid vaccine being assessed for EU distribution

Johnson & Johnson has submitted a demand for EU approval for its Covid-19 vaccine - if granted, the jab could be in use by April 

17 February 2021
By Joanna York

A new Covid vaccine is being assessed for distribution in the European Union by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), with a decision possible by mid-March 2021.

If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, it would become the fourth Covid vaccine to be used in EU countries, along with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

In a statement, the EMA said the new vaccine - known as COVID-19 vaccine Janssen - would be assessed under an “accelerated timetable”. As the organisation already has access to data from laboratory studies for the vaccine, it is now assessing its efficacy, safety, and quality.

Possible one-dose vaccine could be available by April 

Professor Alain Fischer, president of the French vaccination strategy, told news source BFMTV that the new vaccine may be available in France by spring. He said: “We have to wait for the Janssen vaccine to be validated, and it should be soon by the EMA.

“We hope that it will be available for use by the beginning of April.”

He also commented on indications that the Janssen vaccine may provide immunity after just one dose – as opposed to the two doses necessary with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. 

Asked whether he thought one dose of the vaccine would be sufficient, he said: “We will see. The laboratory has run a clinical trial using a single dose, with results that are quite interesting. There is a clinical trial running now with two doses, which I think we need to watch attentively.

“The question, which was also asked with the other vaccines, is always - if we use a single dose how long will protection last? Of course, we want people to be protected straight away, but we also want them to remain protected in six months.”

 

Fourth vaccine could speed up EU efforts

This comes as the 27 member states have experienced logistical issues over the vaccines, including late delivery for existing jabs, which have affected the pace of vaccination efforts in the EU.

The latest figures for France from February 15 show that 2,298,086 people have received a first dose of the vaccine (equivalent to 3.43% of the population). A total of 716,887 people have also received the second dose. 

Meanwhile, Hungary has sidestepped EU rules and received 550,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, which has not yet been approved by the EMA. Plans are also underway in the country for use of the currently unapproved Russian vaccine, Sputnik V.

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Covid vaccination can move faster say French pharmacists

Pharmacies in France prepare to give AstraZeneca vaccines

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