Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, told CNBC on Monday that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine will be an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus as it prevents hospital stays and prevents people from dying.
The FDA on Saturday approved J & J’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. This makes it the third vaccine approved for distribution in the United States and the only vaccine that requires only one dose. Clinical trial data shows that J & J’s vaccine provides 66% overall protection against Covid, compared to around 95% for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Some people have wondered if they should get the J&J vaccine because of the lower rate of effectiveness. While the rate of effectiveness is lower, the vaccine’s main finding is that it prevents 100% of virus-related hospitalizations and deaths, Gorsky said.
“There are many different ways to make comparisons,” Gorsky said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. “But if you really look at what the goal here is to keep people out of the hospital and to save people from dying, we believe this is an incredibly important tool to add – to health systems, let alone patients around the world.”
Gorsky also said that J & J’s results cannot be directly compared to the other two vaccines, as the study was conducted when there were more coronavirus infections and tested in countries where the highly contagious B. .1,351 spread quickly.
“All of these vaccines are incredibly effective,” he added.
In the past few weeks, US health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Officials are increasingly concerned about new, emerging variants of the virus, particularly strain B.1.351, which has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of vaccines both in market and in development.
Gorsky said the sooner world leaders can get everyone vaccinated, the less chance there is of new, emerging varieties taking hold. He added the company is confident the vaccine can handle new strains.
Senior administrative officials said Sunday that health care providers will receive the first 3.9 million doses of the J&J vaccine as of Tuesday. The shipment is J & J’s entire supply of cans, officials said. The company expects to ship an additional 16 million cans by the end of March.
The company has announced that it will ship the vaccine, which contains five doses per vial, at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored in ultra-cold freezers that are between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the FDA recently allowed the company to store its vaccine for two weeks at temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers. Moderna vaccine must be shipped at 13 to 5 degrees above zero Fahrenheit.
“Here, a year later, we are on the verge of delivering literally 100 million cans to the US by the end of June. By the end of this year, almost 1 billion cans worldwide,” said Gorsky on Monday. “Just a remarkable achievement. While our doctors, scientists, and engineers are incredibly proud and humble, I think it gives our country and the world a lot of hope as well.”