NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Another COVID-19 vaccine has entered what is described as the pivotal stage before applying for Food and Drug Administration approval.

It’s a very large Phase 3 trial from Johnson & Johnson. As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Wednesday, this trial may have some advantages over other candidate vaccines.

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It proposes to enroll 60,000 volunteers in placebo-controlled testing. That’s about twice as large as other companies’ trials, although Pfizer recently expanded its trial to 44,000 volunteers. While 60,000 is a massive undertaking, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does have a couple of theoretical advantages over other vaccines.


The first advantage is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may only require one shot, as opposed to two shots with other vaccines. Second, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine must be refrigerated, it does not have to stay frozen until use, like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Both differences are major advantages when trying to immunize hundreds of millions of people, especially in underdeveloped countries.

“You have 7 billion people in the world. You need to see them once instead of twice,” J & J Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stofells said. “So, it’s a big logistic help to be able to get to a single-dose vaccine. Also, it can just go in normal refrigeration when it goes to vaccination sites.”

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Stofells also said that the company’s experience developing Ebola and Zika vaccines gives it confidence that the common cold adenovirus J&J uses to deliver the vaccine is safe and induces significant immunity with just one dose.

Johnson & Johnson’s studies also indicate that immunity from its vaccine may be durable, partly because it induces both antibodies and killer cell immunity. But the company doesn’t expect its trial to be complete until the end of this year and vaccinations to be given first to vulnerable populations in the first quarter of 2021.

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