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How the New Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Will Affect the On-going Pandemic?

The US has already started its Covid-19 vaccination program with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines but approval for the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have its own impact on pandemic management. It is currently submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and awaiting an emergency authorization. Health experts advise everyone to get the Covid-19 vaccine, no matter which option is available in their area.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine significantly differs from Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccine as it is based on mRNA technology. This mRNA is only a small piece with coding that is taken up by the cell. Once it reaches inside, the ribosomes inside cells decode it into a protein which translates for the Covid-19. Once the body is able to recognize this covid-19 particle, it triggers an immune response.

This entry of Covid-19 through mRNA provides the blueprint to the body cells but it is not capable of triggering an infection. It means, no one can get Covid-19 from its vaccine, despite having the virus inside the body. the purpose of this vaccine is to develop an immune response and a record of this virus inside the body, this dose is too small to infect a person anyways.

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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is based on an attenuated virus. It means it still carries the coronavirus but it has been made weak so that it doesn’t replicate inside the body. Its purpose is to deliver one gene which codes for the protein in coronavirus spikes (responsible for attachment with the virus and inducing infection). It is the traditional approach to immune the body against a pathogen that otherwise can attack the body and take over the cells. The only difference that it has as compared to the traditional vaccines is the mechanism used to deliver the virus blueprint to the body cells.

Unlike Pfizer or Moderna, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has more similarities with previous vaccines which include ease of transmission and storage. It is exceptionally helpful for delivering the vaccine into far-fetched areas where Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are hard to deliver, because of their high maintenance requirement.

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While delivering the vaccine through cold storage facilities is not a problem in urban areas, sending it to the rural areas and countryside is the real challenge. Ideally, a vaccine that requires only one shot and is more stable than others means more people will get protection from the virus. Not only it is easy to administer, but the single dose plan may also invite more people to come forward for vaccination.

Some people believe that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not as effective as other vaccines but at this time, no one really needs a very high-efficiency vaccine. To control the spread of this deadly pandemic, any vaccine would work and the difficult part was to create a vaccine that is no more a problem. This new vaccine would be the third one in the US, and even with 60% efficiency, it is going to save millions of people to get infected. On the contrary, the flu vaccine that people get every year is only 50% to 60% effective but still, it helps. Hence, the chances of this vaccine not helping people are very low, or close to zero.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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