Opinion and Editorial

More jabs give us a fighting chance against corona

Filed on February 23, 2021

Vaccines have proven to be effective in preventing Covid-19 infection.

Two doses or one? It’s not just a question on how effective a vaccine is preventing severe infection in people, convenience and ease of storage matter too. Distribution of the doses is made easier and more people are protected and don’t have to wait for the second jab that could take 5-12 weeks in some cases. Vaccines have proven to be effective in preventing Covid-19 infection, and more than 50 million people have received at least a single dose. Now, a single-dose jab could be here sooner than expected if the US Food and Drug Administration green-lights the vaccine for emergency use over the weekend. The FDA clearance could be a game changer in the campaign against the coronavirus pandemic that has swept across the world for more than a year and has changed our lives for the worse.

Experts tell us vaccines are our best chance against Covid-19 and could reduce transmission in some cases but not all vaccines are equal. Into this mix comes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A single dose is all it takes for a sure shot at recovery and the company has promised to ship 20 million doses to hospitals and pharmacies in the US. Development of the vaccine was fast-tracked last March by the Trump administration under Operation Warp Speed that also produced two path-breaking mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. The US government invested $18 billion in the project that could prove critical in ending this tragedy that has seen lives destroyed and economies in tatters. On Sunday, US President Joseph Biden paid tributes to 500,000 Americans who lost their lives to the virus. The response by the erstwhile administration was shoddy at the start of the crisis. Critics then jumped at every opportunity to play down or target the project.

But the mRNA technology by US pharma against newer strains from South Africa and UK giants has been more potent and looks to be the future of vaccine development. Both Moderna and Pfizer have proven to be 94 per cent effective against mutations. Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is a pioneering effort for the dosage and the level of protection it offers. According to a report, efficacy against moderate and severe disease varied in different countries where it was trialled. In the US, the jab was 72 per cent effective, while it was only 57 per cent potent against the strain in South Africa, which is not as good as mRNA vaccines, but is enough to push back against the strains and prevent hospitalisations and reduce deaths. In short, we have one more weapon in our armory against Covid-19. And the sooner we deploy it against the virus, the better our chances of ending the pandemic.

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