Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Is it really so different? |

Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Is it really so different?

Rachel Mills
Updated: March 02, 2021 05:24 PM
Created: March 02, 2021 04:57 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The new Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine can be stored at lower temperatures for longer, and that's a big deal.  It will mean more people can get protected sooner.  But, the different vaccines are far more similar than they are different. 

"The end result is the same. Your cells are making the spike protein and your immune system is learning to recognize it," Dr. Richard Kennedy, co-director of Mayo Clinic's vaccine research group, said. 

The main difference between the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the others is the mechanism it uses to teach your body to recognize the virus.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They are essentially injecting instructions into your arm. It then teaches your body how to build and fight a small piece of the COVID virus, called the spike protein. So if the actual virus ever enters your body, your antibodies are ready. 

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine works in a similar way, but instead of injecting instructions, the vaccine is made of adenovirus, or a modified "dead" virus, that has a similar make-up as COVID. This virus then teaches your body how to build and fight the COVID spike protein, so if you ever get the virus, you would already have the antibodies. 

"It's also one dose so that's going to simplify not only the storage, and transportation and distribution, but it's also going to be easier to start vaccinating people," Dr. Kennedy said.  

Dr. Kennedy also said this "game-changing" vaccine will allow the full vaccine regimen to be one and done. But what about the lower efficacy rate?

"It's similar to saying to people 'I've got two vaccines. One has an efficacy rate of 75 and one has an efficacy rate of purple. What would you like?'" Dr. Kennedy said.  

He explained the conditions under which the different vaccines were tested were so different that we really cannot compare this new vaccine to the others. Each vaccine is doing the same thing. 

"All of the vaccines work. They work very well and they provide protection against disease. So my suggestion is to get the vaccine that's available to you and get it as soon as it's available," Dr. Kennedy said.  

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