A one-time COVID-19 vaccine from US drug maker Johnson and Johnson is expected to be approved for use in the European Union in early March, a French minister said on Sunday.

The vaccine was released for emergency use in the US on Saturday, making it the third vaccine available.

The single-shot vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including against newer variants, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before giving the go-ahead.

The French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told France 3 Television that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also evaluating the information provided by the US pharmaceutical company.

EU approval in early March would allow the vaccine to be launched in late March or early April, she said, adding that this was “good news” as it provides protection with a single unlike other vaccines that require two Shot offers.

She said it was possible a booster shot would be needed later, “but we can’t be sure yet”.

The EU hopes to have 600 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June, she said.

France has vaccinated 1.5 million people so far, the minister said. By June, all 15 million people – among the most vulnerable populations in the country – will be vaccinated, she added, but admitted that reaching that goal may require a faster adoption of vaccines.

In large clinical trials, the J&J vaccine was found to be 85.9 percent effective against major diseases in the US, 81.7 percent in South Africa and 87.6 percent in Brazil.

The J&J shot appears to be less protective than the two-shot therapies from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which have around 95 percent effectiveness against all forms of COVID-19 from the classic strain of coronavirus.

FDA review shows J&J COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective

© 2021 AFP

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