Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is effective: FDA

Palladium Global Health Director, Dr. Farley Cleghorn joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how the FDA saying Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is effective will impact vaccine rollout and the rate of distribution.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Please welcome into the stream, Dr. Farley Cleghorn, Global Health Director for Palladium. Palladium advises governments and different businesses on all kinds of issues-- supply chain, health matters. And we appreciate your joining us to help us understand what happens next if we get the EUA for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. What does it mean for all of us who are waiting to get our shot?

FARLEY CLEGHORN: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. It does add to our armamentarium-- that is our vaccine supply-- to have another product that is relatively easier to use. As you've heard, this is a single shot. And it is what we call a vector vaccine, an adenovirus vector vaccine, that you give one dose of. And the efficacy is 72% in the US against severe COVID. And that is actually way in excess of the benchmark that we set early on of 50%.

Of course people are comparing it to Pfizer and Moderna. The fact is it's going to give you good impact. And the fact that it can be used as a single shot and it's stored at simple refrigerator temperatures makes it easier to use. So it can be sent out to pharmacies, to doctor's offices, to primary care providers, and to rural and under-resourced settings to make the task of delivering enough vaccine to people easier.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So Doctor, then keeping all of that in mind, going back to the timing question of this, could this speed it up by weeks? Are we talking maybe even a couple of months? What do you think?

FARLEY CLEGHORN: Well, I think, unfortunately, as you mentioned already, we are running into early production issues. That has, of course, happened with all of the vaccines that have been registered so far. As you heard, Johnson & Johnson have committed to 4 million doses by the end of this month and 100 million doses by the end of June.

I think the national coordinating committees at the various levels of government will be working very hard with J&J and their vaccine subsidiary, Janssen, in order to make sure that there are no additional barriers to the supply chain. To remove the barriers that currently exist-- and we don't have a lot of insight into what those are. But it seems to be just a matter of ramping up production.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Doctor, you brought up an issue that I think some of us refer to as vaccine envy. So let's say you're one of the people who gets the Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine. What do you say to those folks who might get that, but then try to go get either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine? Is that unnecessary? Is that dangerous?

FARLEY CLEGHORN: It's completely unnecessary, and we don't have any evidence that it's dangerous yet. I'll give you an example. First, our advice is to everyone-- you should take the first approved vaccine that becomes available to you. This is a bit of a random selection in that different vaccines-- Moderna, Pfizer, outside of the US, AstraZeneca, now manufactured in India is Covisheld. If those become available, then absolutely you should get them.

There is no need to repeat vaccination with a more efficacious product. You will have good immunity from a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. And if you've had COVID before, as many people in the United States have-- keep in mind that the US has had the largest impact from coronavirus in the world, meaning the highest death rate and the highest disability, meaning morbidity and mortality rates. Therefore, our objective is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. And that is something that is a logistical exercise, as well as a scientific exercise, of getting us more vaccine.

- Well, and Doctor, going off of that, it's clearly not just a US problem. This is a global problem. I'm curious just to get your thoughts on the global vaccination efforts-- where do those efforts stand? And what do you think is the likely or realistic timeline for that?

FARLEY CLEGHORN: Well, as you know, the only way that many countries in the world-- we call them low and middle income countries-- have to access vaccines is through a mechanism called COVAX. This is a partnership between the WHO, GAVI, which is the Global Alliance for Vaccines, and CEPI, which is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness. They are together co-managing this effort, which aims to raise funds from wealthy countries to do what is called advance purchase commitments from the very same companies that are making these vaccines, and to reserve those vaccines that they have purchased to allow countries that don't otherwise have access to vaccinate 20% of their populations.

And that 20% represents frontline workers, health care workers, and those that are vulnerable from concomitant diseases. That 20% is an ambition. There have been many barriers including commitments by rich countries, because rich countries are distracted by trying to vaccinate their own populations. Having said all of that, the first CPVAX shipment went out yesterday.

And Ghana received 600,000 doses of Covishield, which as we mentioned earlier, is the Indian manufactured version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. And 600,000 to Ghana is a start. We expect, and they have committed, that all countries will be receiving this 20% over the course of March and April.