The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday granted emergency use listing to a single-dose coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, marking the fourth jab cleared to rollout among developing countries through a global initiative called COVAX.
The WHO will convene an advisory group of experts next week to form recommendations for use of the vaccine, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said during a briefing Friday.
“We hope that this new vaccine will help to narrow vaccine inequalities and not deepen them,” Tedros said.
He added that the COVAX facility booked 500 million doses of the single-shot vaccine, and looks forward to receiving the vaccines as soon as possible, potentially by July. The director-general noted the COVAX initiative has delivered about 30 million doses of vaccine across 38 countries.
Tedros noted an inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines presents the largest threat to lifting the world out of the pandemic, adding that 76% of some 335 million doses have been administered in just ten countries.
Johnson & Johnson previously announced its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 72% effective in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 in the U.S, but fell to 66% in a larger trial conducted worldwide. The results stem from a Phase 3 ENSEMBLE clinical trial, which involved 43,783 participants.
J&J’s vaccine was created using an adenovirus rather than mRNA technology seen in other recently approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. It also further eases logistics with just a single dose and with storage capability in refrigerator temperatures.