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Will a single-shot fourth vaccine be approved in March?

The European Medicines Agency has set mid-March as a timeline for possible approval of the COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Janssen.

According to the company, its vaccine only requires one shot, unlike those that are currently available on the market, which require two shots taken a few weeks apart. Janssen, an offshoot of Johnson and Johnson, filed an application for conditional marketing authorisation with the EMA just yesterday. What’s more, the agency said that its human medicines committee will assess the vaccine under an accelerated timetable.

“The Committee could issue an opinion by the middle of March 2021, provided that the company’s data on the vaccine’s efficacy, safety and quality are sufficiently comprehensive and robust,” said the EMA.

It noted that such a short time for evaluation was only possible because the EMA had already reviewed some data during a rolling review. They have indeed already approved three other COVID-19 vaccines for distribution in the European market, including Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. The agency said the Janssen vaccine works by preparing the body to defend itself again the virus. It’s made up of another virus that has been modified to contain the gene for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This refers to a protein that is found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which the virus needs in order to enter the body’s cells.

Once it’s been administered, the vaccine delivers the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein gene cells in the body. The cells use the gene to produce the spike protein. Next, the person’s immune system will be able to recognise the protein as foreign, produce antibodies and activate white blood cells to attack it. The virus in the vaccine cannot reproduce and does not cause disease.

What are your thoughts on Janssen’s vaccine?