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January 15, 2021

Covid-19 roundup: What the early data says about Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine

Daily Briefing

    HHS will collect data on how many health care providers and patients have received Covid-19 vaccines, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to increase vaccine production by 50% in 2021, and more.

    • HHS has launched a tool to help patients and providers locate monoclonal antibody treatments for Covid-19. The tool, which is located at HHS' Protect Public Data Hub, shows locations that have gotten shipments of the treatments within recent weeks. According to HHS, state officials have to opt in to have information about the treatments received by locations in their states displayed on the tool, and HHS said it will not show data for locations that received fewer than five courses of the treatments. As of Monday, the tool showed data from 22 states (Jercich, Healthcare IT News, 1/12).
    • HHS on Tuesday announced that it will begin collecting data on how many providers and patients have received Covid-19 vaccines. The department said it will ask hospitals to report data on vaccinations once a week. Initially, HHS will not make the data public. However, the department expects to make the data public once it has been verified for quality, senior officials said (Evans, Wall Street Journal, 1/12).
    • Preliminary data from early clinical trials on Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) experimental Covid-19 vaccine show the vaccine candidate is safe and generates an effective immune response against the novel coronavirus, the company announced Wednesday. The data shows that 90% of participants in the trials who received the vaccine candidate had developed antibodies against the virus by Day 29 after receiving the inoculation, and that all of those participants had developed coronavirus antibodies by Day 57. The most common side effects reported among those who received the experimental one-dose vaccine were fatigue and headache. J&J said it expects to have more conclusive data on the vaccine candidate in "late January," after its Phase III clinical trial ends. Separately, Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, said J&J has experienced delays in producing doses of the vaccine candidate, and the company is on track to produce "single-digit" million doses by the second half of February. J&J should be able to produce "a much larger number" of doses by April, Slaoui said. According to Politico, a J&J spokesperson would not confirm the delay, but the spokesperson said the company is "confident in [its] ability to meet [its] 2021 supply commitments" (Cancryn/Owermohle, Politico, 1/13; Sullivan, The Hill, 1/13; Zimmer et. al., New York Times, 1/13).
    • Moderna on Monday announced that immunity to the novel coronavirus derived from its Covid-19 vaccine should last for at least a year and should offer protection against new variants of the novel coronavirus. Moderna said it plans to distribute between 600 million and one billion doses of the vaccine in 2021, and Tal Zaks, Moderna's top doctor, said there is currently no evidence supporting the efficacy of giving patients half doses of the vaccine—a notion that's been proposed by some public health officials to increase vaccine supplies—though the company is studying the topic. "On cutting the dose in half, we're advocating for following the data and the science," Zaks said. "We do not have data on efficacy for half the dose" (Roy, Reuters, 1/11; Bannow, Modern Healthcare, 1/11).
    • Pfizer and BioNTech recently announced that they intend to manufacture 2 billion doses of their vaccine for Covid-19 in 2021, an increase of more than 50% over their initially planned production for this year. Both companies also announced that they have agreed to distribute more than one billion doses of the vaccine under deals with several different countries. For example, the companies will supply the United States with 200 million doses of the vaccine under their agreement with the country. Initially, the companies had planned to produce 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine this year (Kresge/Griffin, Bloomberg, 1/11).

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