People may need annual Covid-19 vaccination, says J&J CEO

People may need annual Covid-19 vaccination, says J&J CEO
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Johnson & Johnson (J&J) chief executive officer (CEO) Alex Gorsky says people may need to have annual Covid-19 vaccination over the next several years.

Following the pharma firm's application for an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Covid-19 vaccine, the J&J CEO pointed out the possibility of people needing annual vaccination from the virus in the next years.


Need for annual Covid-19 vaccination

In a CNBC interview, Gorsky said: “Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate. Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”

Public health officials and infectious disease experts have mentioned the high probability of the coronavirus to become an endemic disease, which means it will be present in communities at all times, albeit at lower levels than at present.

Medical experts also mentioned the need for health officials to continue monitoring for new variants of the virus in order to produce vaccines against them.


J&J vaccine

Several weeks ago, J&J announced that its one-dose Covid-19 vaccine was 72% effective in the US but less potent in other regions.

Results of a phase 3 trial showed that the J&J Covid-19 vaccine was 72% effective in protecting against the virus in the US, while it is 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa after four weeks.

Results of the trial were based on 468 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the more than 43,000 participants. It included infections from the highly contagious South Africa variant, dubbed B.1.351.


According to J&J, the vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe disease four weeks after vaccination in all adults while offering complete protection against Covid-related hospitalization during the same period.

The company also noted that the vaccine was well tolerated, with no significant safety concerns related to the vaccine reported, as well as no reports of anaphylaxis.

FDA application

Last week, the pharma giant applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

If approved, the J&J vaccine will be the third Covid-19 vaccine to be authorized for emergency use in the US, behind the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which were granted authorization in December.

J&J’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Paul Stoffels, said: “Today’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization of our investigational single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is a pivotal step toward reducing the burden of disease for people globally and putting an end to the pandemic.”

“Upon authorization of our investigational COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, we are ready to begin shipping. With our submission to the FDA and our ongoing reviews with other health authorities around the world, we are working with great urgency to make our investigational vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible,” Dr. Stoffels explained.

Gorsky said the company's priority is working with the FDA toward US authorization and that J&J is working “full speed” on vaccine manufacturing. He is “extremely confident” that the company will meet its target to deliver 100 million doses of its Covid vaccine to the country by the end of June.