Vaccino Johnson & Johnson: how it works and why it could be the Italian turning point

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March should be the month of a new vaccine, the fourth available in Europe: this is the one developed by the multinational Johnson & Johnson, to be precise from the pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen which already received approval a year ago for an Ebola vaccine. According to many it will be the so-called game changer, because abundant supplies will arrive (in Italy 27 million in total, 7 of which by the second trimester) and mainly because he has been shown to develop a good immune response even with a single dose. Further studies on the effects of a possible booster are underway, but the results will come later and in the meantime we will start with the single-dose scheme.

The product can be kept in the refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees, therefore, does not have any particular logistical problems, and has shown efficacy variable between 72 and 64% according to the different areas in which the third phase clinical trials were carried out: better results in the United States (with protection against the most severe forms of 86%) and slightly lower protection in South Africa, against the variant identified for the first time in that country (82% against severe forms of the disease). In Brazilon the other hand, the average efficacy was between 66.2 and 68.1% – respectively 14 and 28 days after vaccination – in preventing severe and critical forms.

It is not an mRna vaccine like those from Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna but a viral carrier such as AstraZeneca: exploits a type 26 adenovirus (Ad26, usually causes a cold), i.e. human, deactivated. AstraZeneca’s is a chimpanzee adenovirus. A fragment of the virus’ DNA is inserted into the molecule and will instruct certain types of human cells to produce the virus spike glycoprotein. Production triggers the antibody reaction of the immune system, which will then be ready in case of Sars-CoV-2 infection. He will have learned to protect himself without having come into contact with the virus but only with a small part of it, the lockpick he uses to bind to cells and penetrate them.

The US Food and Drug Administration has it authorized a few days ago. The European Medicines Agency is expected to follow within a couple of weeks, the possible date seems to be theMarch 11, with the hope of receiving the first deliveries within the month. The European Union ordered 200 million doses, with an option to purchase another 200 million. Technically they are dry vaccinated: each dose one immunized person. It will be necessary to understand if Johnson & Johnson, which in January had complained of some delays like many other producers, will be able to meet deliveries or at least get closer to what has been planned with the countries.

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