The Latest: A third vaccine may be on its way

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog
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2 min readFeb 24, 2021

Dear Reader,

I’ve got two exciting words about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to share with you: It works. This morning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new analysis showing that it’s both effective and safe, which bodes well for the FDA advisory committee meeting on Friday, when experts will decide whether to recommend the vaccine for emergency use.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has an overall efficacy of 72% in the United States. This is lower than that of Pfizer and Moderna, but keep in mind that Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials took place in regions where more transmissible variants were likely circulating, including South Africa. Previously, experts told the Coronavirus Blog that it’s better to get vaccinated with a lower-efficacy vaccine than wait around for a dose of one that’s more effective.

After the U.S. death count surpassed 500,000 this week, the Johnson & Johnson news feels especially welcome. As former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden wrote in his weekly update on the Coronavirus Blog, “Deaths are decreasing. Global collaboration is rising. Spring, not Covid, is increasingly in the air.”

Stay safe and stay hopeful,

Yasmin Tayag
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A quick Q&A: What is a universal coronavirus vaccine?

SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the first coronavirus to infect humans, and it probably won’t be the last. Rather than create a new vaccine every time a coronavirus emerges, some scientists are developing a single “universal coronavirus vaccine” that could protect people from a wide range of coronaviruses, as Emily Mullin writes in Future Human. The idea is finally getting widespread support: Even National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, MD, has said that now is the time to start developing one.

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Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.