Newly approved for emergency use, the Janssen vaccine has it’s pros and cons. Johnson and Johnson struggle to reach production goals, entering into partnership with pharmaceutical giant Merck. US Catholic officials voice moral concerns over vaccine production.
By Evan Rodrigues
On February 27th, an emergency use authorization from the FDA was announced for a third COVID-19 vaccine. Produced by Janssen Biotech Inc., a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson, the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is delivered in a single shot. An article written by Noah Weiland for the New York Times highlights the benefits of a single dose:
“At small, independent pharmacies, the vaccine has caused a surge of excitement. Steve Hoffart, the owner of Magnolia Pharmacy in Magnolia, Texas, a small town outside of Houston, has received calls and emails from residents anticipating its arrival this week. He said he hopes to hold a Johnson & Johnson event for teachers on March 13. Schools in the area have struggled to find substitute teachers during the pandemic, and a vaccine that does not require a second visit and more time off was a significant development, he said.”
The article cites other upsides of the vaccine, saying it “can be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures for three months,” making it “ideal for distribution at nonmedical sites such as stadiums and convention centers.”
While the benefits of the vaccine are numerous, there is a slight difference in efficacy rates among the three vaccines available. A New York Times article written by Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere reads:
“The new vaccine’s 72 percent efficacy rate in the U.S. clinical trial site — a number scientists have celebrated — falls short of the roughly 95 percent rate found in studies testing the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Across all trial sites, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also showed 85 percent efficacy against severe forms of Covid-19 and 100 percent efficacy against hospitalization and death.”
Apart from the slight difference in results, the vaccine’s production has run into barriers. The New York Times reports that “Johnson & Johnson and its partners fell behind in their manufacturing. Although the company was supposed to deliver its first 37 million doses by the end of March, it said that it would be able to deliver only 20 million doses by that date, which made Biden aides nervous.”
This delay in production led to an increase in aid and the formation of a partnership. The New York Times reports, “In a brief speech . . . Biden said his administration had provided support to Johnson & Johnson that would enable the company and its partners to make vaccines around the clock. The administration had also brokered a deal in which the pharmaceutical giant Merck would help manufacture the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.”
While focussed on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, an article from NPR touches on the concerns of US Catholic Bishops:
“Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was produced in part through the use of cell lines derived from an aborted human fetus. . . ‘If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's,’ say Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. Naumann chairs the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Rhoades chairs the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine.”
The bishops understand that not everyone will have a choice when it comes to the type of vaccine they receive, so they stress the importance of getting vaccinated, even if your only option is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The NPR article quotes the bishops again, “[getting vaccinated] ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good."
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Melanie Moyer '22,