Overall, good news on the J&J vaccine

Johnson & Johnson reported on Friday that its one-shot vaccine was “overall” 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe Covid disease.

But the devil, as you know, is in the details.

So, while the vaccine was 72 % effective in the US and A, it was only 57 % effective in South Africa, where a mutant strain of the virus is running rampant.

So although the “overall” rate for all participants was 66 %, as long as that South African strain does not take over in Canada, we should focus on that 72 % effectiveness in protecting Canadians, which is lower than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s effectiveness rate, but which is still pretty impressive.

Even more impressive is that J&J’s vaccine was reported to be “85% effective in preventing severe Covid-19”, and since no one who got the vaccine died over the course of the trial, it could be said to be 100 % effective at preventing death (although I would be very hesitant in believing that until we saw proof of that in the real world).

So, if “overall” is what we’re interested in, and yes, we are, this is overall good news, especially since both Moderna and Pfizer have significantly slowed vaccine delivery to Canada for the coming weeks.

It is not an over-statement to say that we’re in an intense race with this mutable virus, so the quicker we can immunize thousands, if not millions, of Canadians with a vaccine that is pretty effective and which is 1) easy to administer in one shot – no return visit required!, 2) easy to transport and store – regular fridges should be enough, and 3) seemingly at least as safe and side-effect-free as the other vaccines already in use, if Health Canada’s experts do not sit on their collective asses longer than is absolutely necessary, and if J&J seeks approval very soon, as it might, we should be able to roll this vaccine out pretty quickly and stay slightly ahead of this mutable virus .