Clinical trial participants may be first to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Memphis

Johnson & Johnson vaccine out for delivery after Memphis trial

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s still unclear exactly when the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available in Memphis, but we do know that likely some of the first to receive the vaccine will be those who helped make it a reality.

Monday FedEx trucks picked up the Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the McKesson’s Olive Branch Facility.

The shipping giant sorting and sending out the third vaccine approved for emergency use by the FDA.

“This will be a great addition to what’s already available,” said Dr. Aditya Guar.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine allows Shelby Co. to ramp up appointments

Guar is the clinical director for the department of infectious disease at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and co-primary investigator of the Johnson and Johnson clinical trial.

Nearly 300 Mid-Southerners joined more than 40,000 people around the world for the double-blind study of the vaccine that requires just a single dose.

“We expect soon that the trial will be un-blinded to all of the participants, such that those who are randomized to receive the placebo can soon be offered the vaccine,” said Guar.

In the U.S., the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to be 72% effective in preventing COVID-19, a stark difference from Pfizer and Moderna’s 94-95% efficacy.

“These studies can not be compared. The study results can not be compared apples to apples,” said Guar.

According to Guar, the three vaccines were studied among different populations during different time frames.

Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials were September through February during the time when COVID-19 variants were being discovered such as the South African and UK strains.

The Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials didn’t have to contend with variants.

Guar says what people should be most concerned about is the 86% effectiveness against severe illness and no deaths reported.

“At this time what is important, including for our county, individuals to access a vaccine and if it ends up being Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson access to a vaccine is important,” said Guar.

State health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercy says the state has not been given a firm arrival date for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but it expects it to be a slow trickle into the state.

For the time being expect Pfizer and Moderna to still be the primary vaccines available in Tennessee.

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