Hearing news of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines last year brought great relief to many across the world. With the entire pharmaceutical market focused on the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines, it was only a matter of time until a solution was found. However, the first two solutions that arose, one from Pfizer and Moderna each, have one small problem; despite boasting a 95% and 94% efficacy rating respectively, they are much more difficult and complicated to manage and distribute effectively.
In this situation, these two vaccines could be seen as the “quality over quantity” approach to the problem. While the subzero storage requirements, combined with the two-dose application, are a sizeable cost, it also allows them to boast a 90%+ efficacy rating. Nevertheless, these conditions make them extremely difficult to distribute to the masses in an effective manner. This condition worsens when we consider that many countries around the world are unable to afford the equipment to store these vaccines before application. This is when the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine comes into play. Instead of aiming for precision and a high efficacy rate, this approach takes quantity over quality.
So how does this vaccine work?
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use new, cutting-edge vaccine technology known as mRNA vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson, and for that matter, AstraZeneca vaccines, use a more traditional and simpler approach. They both take advantage of a common cold virus that is modified to be harmless. After this, they introduce fragments of COVID-19’s genetic code into the bodies of these neutralized viruses. When this solution is injected into our bodies, the immune system immediately reacts, repelling the invaders and pressing them into memory so that future invasions can be combated. You’ve probably already noticed, but this approach allows our bodies to commit Coronavirus’s genetic code into memory, allowing our body to fight back against the infection whenever the real deal attacks.
However, it is expected that such an approach would also have some issues. The fact that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s initial efficacy rating was reported at 66% makes it seem lackluster compared to its competitors. However, there are also various upsides that make this vaccine a more attractive option for governments and clinics around the world. Not only can these vaccines be stored in refrigerators instead of freezers or specialized containers, but they are also single-shot, meaning that people who take the injection have no need to go back for a second round. While the efficacy rating is significantly lower compared to the precise and tedious Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it shows promise in a world where quantity is in higher demand than quality.