- Moncef Slaoui from Operation Warp Speed suggests that AstraZeneca and J&J COVID-19 doses will play a significant role in vaccinating everyone in the US.
- J&J candidate, being a one-shot vaccine will help in ramping up the pace for getting everyone vaccinated by the first half of 2021.
Although the Pfizer vaccine rollout is almost a sure proposition that the US can expect anytime soon, the hard reality is they are not going to be enough of them to cater to the entire population. The US Government has entered into a deal of 100 million doses which would suffice the requirement of 50 million people. It, however, will not fulfil the goal of vaccinating everyone by summer.
So how to go about it is the immediate question that has kept all of us guessing? Well, according to Moncef Slaoui, PhD., Co-Leader of Operation Warp Speed, COVID 19 shots from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are surely going to get the US to its goal. He has also expressed his confidence about AstraZeneca’s success despite the doubts that are doing rounds recently.
The phase 3 trial data from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson is expected by early February and if we go as per what Slaoui is saying, the technologies used in both are easier to scale up vis-à-vis the messenger RNA technology that is used by Pfizer and Moderna. If they get a nod from the FDA, both AstraZeneca and J&J are expected to provide almost 200 million doses in the 1st quarter of 2021. While J&J will be only 1 shot vaccine, AstraZeneca is going to follow a two-dose regimen, both of which would be enough to vaccinate around 150 million people. With Pfizer and Moderna, the tally will be 100 million more which will be enough to have the US cross the finish line. As per Slaoui, with the current speed and scenario, the US population shall be covered within the first half of 2021.
AstraZeneca’s road to coming out with flying colors hasn’t been bump-free. With 70% efficacy in the late-stage trials as per the interim data released last month, The Lancet published results haven’t been taken well either, which has further deteriorated the high hopes of the vaccine.
The data put forth by The Lancet suggests that the standard two-dose regimen of AstraZeneca was 62% effective in preventing COVID-19 which is way below the 90% plus benchmark that has been set by mRNA vaccines. AstraZeneca is yet to justify as to why there was a 90% efficacy among patients who had only received a half dose in the trials. There have been no serious side effects coming out from Pfizer and Moderna trials, however, one case of transverse myelitis has been reported in case of AstraZeneca. One Logistical benefit that comes with AstraZeneca is the refrigerator temperatures it can be transported through as against the sub-zero temperatures required from mRNA vaccines.
J&J has been comparatively having better luck with its vaccine candidate, the trial data of which is expected as early as January next year. Slaoui says that the Government from day one decided not to bank on only one vaccine and went on to select four different platform technologies. He further went on to add that Operation Warp Speed’s strategy has proven to be smart.