The J&J vaccine is back. Next comes trust.


Seema Shah, a bioethicist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, says it would have been worse to distribute the Johnson & Johnson admission without stopping to examine the clots, even though the break wasn’t ideal.

“I always think about the counterfactual,” says. “If the FDA hadn’t stopped, what kind of signal would that have sent?”

Options can build confidence

Many health care providers and government officials have viewed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which uses conventional virus-based technology to provide the necessary genetic instructions, as a useful alternative to Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. Since only one dose is required, it is well suited for people who may not be staying in one place long enough to schedule a second dose, e.g. B. Students and the homeless.

Many other people simply prefer the one-shot option – whether for convenience or because they don’t like needles to begin with. Gig and shift workers may have tight windows to get to a vaccine appointment, making Johnson & Johnson a better option.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also easier to distribute and administer because it does not require the particularly cold storage temperatures that mRNA vaccines require. This makes it easier to vaccinate patients in the home, people in rural communities, and patients in pop-up clinics who may not have dedicated freezers.

“If the FDA hadn’t stopped, what kind of signal would that have sent?”

Seema Shah, bioethicist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago

Despite these advantages, the vaccine met with suspicion after manufacturing issues and studies that showed it was less effective at preventing infection: while Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 95% and 94% effective against symptomatic infections, the was Johnson & Johnson shot 72% effective against moderate to severe cases. While the comparison isn’t perfect, headlines about inferiority can add up, and those working to build trust need to take this into account.

“It is going to take some important news for people to understand that we are not imposing the bad vaccine on you – there is no bad vaccine that we would allow to remain in use,” says Fernandez Lynch. She also notes that doctors now need to communicate with patients in order to gain their trust. They are the ones who can explain the relatively low risk of side effects or offer alternatives for those affected.

Building that trust is a long game, she says: “It’s not just about today; It’s not just about the J&J vaccine. It’s not just about covid vaccines. It’s about trust in science, government and public health. “

This story is part of the Pandemic Technology Project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.


Steven Gregory