In a flurry of announcements, drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax last week revealed promising COVID-19 vaccine trial results against new coronavirus variants, and AstraZeneca reported that its vaccine is approved by the European Union for use in adults of all ages.
J&J’s drug, unique as the only one-dose shot among leading COVID-19 vaccines, has proven to be 66% effective against moderate-to-severe COVID-19 — including in countries beset by new SARS-CoV-2 variants, the company said. The drug also is 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease and provides “complete protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death by 28 days post-inoculation,” J&J added in a statement. The company said it plans to file for emergency use authorization in the United States next week, according to CNBC.
A one-dose vaccine has obvious appeal to the long-term care industry, considering the complex logistics it is facing while ensuring staggered two-dose vaccinations in the initial Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna rollout. But some operators have told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News that this won’t be the only factor influencing which shot they wish to use in the future.
“I don’t want to trade efficacy for ease of use,” said Todd Jones, president of AMFM Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, before J&J released its recent data. His company already has completed both first- and second-round doses of the Pfizer vaccine through a partnership with its long-term care pharmacy, and his team now is planning how best to serve new residents and staff members moving forward. “Even with its horrible cold-storage requirements, [Pfizer] has worked really well across the state here in West Virginia,” the Charleston-based operator said.
Novavax, meanwhile, has the advantage of having tested its two-dose candidate against the new coronavirus variants in both Britain and South Africa. It showed 96% efficacy against the original Covid-19 strain and was 86% effective against the U.K. variant, the company reported. It was less effective — at 49% — in an earlier-stage South Africa trial, where more than 90% of sequenced cases are attributable to the strain that’s now prevalent there (and just recently detected in the United States).
AstraZeneca gets the green light in UK
Meanwhile, the European Union has approved the British-made AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for use in all adults, despite concerns raised last week that there may not be enough data to prove it works in elderly people, according to the Associated Press.
Although data from older trial participants is limited, “protection is expected” based on reliable safety information from other vaccine trials in this population, said the European Medicines Agency, the bloc’s medicines regulator. More information is forthcoming from ongoing studies that include a higher proportion of elderly participants, it added.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is about 60% effective in preventing COVID-19, the EMA reported. While that’s less protection than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already recommended for use across the EU, it could help stop outbreaks, the regulator said.
“With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and European Economic Area member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens,” said Emer Cooke, EMA executive director.