Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Services
The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the COVID-19 vaccine Ad26.COV2.S, developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), for emergency use in all countries and for COVAX roll-out. The decision comes on the back of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorization. The COVAX Facility has booked 500 million doses of the vaccine. The vaccine from Janssen is the first to be listed by WHO as a single dose regimen, which should facilitate vaccination logistics in all countries. The ample data from large clinical trials shared by the company also shows that the vaccine is effective in older populations. While the vaccine needs to be stored at -20 degrees, which may prove challenging in some environments, it can be kept for three months at 2-8°C and it has a long shelf life of two years. To expedite listing of the vaccine, WHO and a team of assessors from all regions adopted what is called an ‘abbreviated assessment’ based on outcomes of the EMA review, and evaluation of quality, safety and efficacy data focused on low and middle-income country needs. The WHO assessment also considered suitability requirements such as cold chain storage and risk management plans to be implemented in countries. WHO has also listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio and Serum Institute of India vaccines for emergency use.