New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson findings for its COVID-19 vaccine trial released Jan. 29 showed while effectiveness is lower than Pfizer and Moderna, it provides a high enough level to warrant approval.
Tested in North America, Latin America and South Africa, the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine was 66% effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 28 days after vaccination among all participants from different geographies and including those infected with an emerging viral variant. The onset of protection was observed as early as day 14.
The level of protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 infection 28 days post-vaccination was 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa.
Gov. Phil Murphy at his press briefing Jan. 29 noted despite the vaccine not reaching the above 90% levels the two current vaccines currently being employed do, a deeper dive shows the vaccine candidate was 85% effective in preventing severe disease four weeks after vaccination.
Murphy said after speaking with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky “the major takeaway here is that the vaccine provides complete protection against hospitalization and death after 28 days. And it gives protection against a severe case after 49 days.”
The governor expressed confidence in the vaccine as the trials were conducted in the teeth of the pandemic at its peak and its variants, with testing taking place in the U.S., Brazil, and South Africa.
“These are numbers that can not be overlooked,” said Murphy. “We need every tool in our tool kit and should the FDA grant J&J Emergency Use Authorization, and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices provides an appropriate recommendation, a vaccine that requires one dose and does not require cold-chain storage could be a game-changer in our ability to quickly ramp up vaccine distribution and administration.”
The company plans to file an application for emergency use in the U.S. the week of Feb. 1 but did not disclose exactly how much could be ready to ship as soon as U.S. authorities give the green light. J&J officials said the vaccine is safe, with reactions similar to other COVID-19 shots such as fever that occur when the immune system is revved up. A two-dose study by the company is still underway.
100 Million Doses
The company reported the level of protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 infection was 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa 28 days post-vaccination. Protection was generally consistent across race, age groups, including adults over 60 years of age, and across all variants and regions studied, including South Africa where nearly all cases of COVID-19 were due to an infection variant.
The company noted the vaccine candidate is compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels whereas the two current two-dose vaccines must be stored in sub-zero temperatures. If authorized, the single-dose vaccine candidate is estimated to remain stable for at least three months in refrigerated temperatures between 36°–46°.
For Murphy, he believed the totality of what the vaccine can bring will get the state to its stated goal of getting 4.7 million residents vaccinated this year.
“I do not think it is a tomorrow event…but their commitment is to have 100 million doses on the street (in the U.S.) by the end of June,” said the governor.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 724,371 as of Jan. 29. Of those who have received the vaccine, 610,110 residents have received their first dose with 110,698 their second; 55% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 45% the Pfizer.
Demographically, 60% of those vaccinated are women and 40% men. As for ethnicity, 48% are White, 19% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 28% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 80,834 doses, Essex 56,644 doses, Hudson 34,321 doses, Morris 53,316 doses, Passaic 34,238 doses, Sussex 11,712 doses, and Warren 7,349 doses.
On Jan. 29, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 615,202 with 5,023 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,186 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 72,067. The total number of individual cases for the state is 687,269. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 83 new deaths, bringing that total to 19,254. The state listed probable deaths at 2,129, bringing the overall total to 21,383. State officials noted 59 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 470 new confirmed cases and 86 probable cases, Essex 641 new cases and 105 probable cases, Hudson 384 new cases and 55 probable cases, Morris 303 new cases and and 84 probable cases, Passaic 278 new cases and 29 probable cases, Sussex 62 new cases and 17 probable cases, and Warren 52 cases and four probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,279, followed by Bergen at 2,197, Hudson with 1,690, Passaic at 1,432, Morris at 844, Sussex at 198 and Warren County at 183.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 268, Essex has 255, Morris at 207, Hudson has 171, Passaic at 163, Sussex has 53 and Warren has 15.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 25, was 8.4%; by region, the rate was 8.4% in the North, 8.3% in the Central region and 8.4% in the South.The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, it remained unchanged for the third consecutive day at 0.91. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 3,116 patients were hospitalized; with 2,884 cases confirmed and 232 under investigation. By region, there were 1,352 in the North, 1,014 in the Central and 750 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 548 are in intensive care units and 378 on ventilators. A total of 363 patients were discharged, while 361 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 59,421, followed by Essex at 59,188, Middlesex at 58,890, Hudson at 55,971, Passaic at 46,768, Union at 44,115, Ocean at 44,106, Monmouth at 44,074, Camden at 36,092, Burlington at 27,570, Morris at 27,243, Mercer at 23,425, Gloucester at 18,946, Atlantic at 17,021, Somerset at 16,123, Cumberland at 10,650, Sussex at 6,804, Warren at 5,399, Hunterdon at 5,257, Salem at 3,850, and Cape May at 3,162.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,897, followed by Union at 6,570, Ocean at 5,312, Essex at 5,076, Hudson at 4,597, Morris at 4,489, Monmouth at 4,276, Atlantic at 4,272, Middlesex at 4,139, Passaic at 3,957, Camden at 3,864, Somerset at 3,555, Burlington at 3,541, Cape May at 2,971, Gloucester at 2,704, Cumberland at 2,032, Mercer at 1,301, Sussex at 920, Warren at 586, Hunterdon at 538, and Salem 425.
Another 1,127 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 131 outbreaks involving 597 cases, with 10 new outbreaks accounting for 32 cases reported in the weekly update, have been reported in all 21 counties in the Garden State.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 29 confirmed outbreaks with 121 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases, Warren has five confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 91 cases and Morris County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 425 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 15,616 of the cases, broken down between 7,514 residents and 8,102 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,225 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,302 residents and 21,454 staff, for a total of 53,756 cases.
The state’s official death total, reported for those lab confirmed, sits at 7,748 on Jan. 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,703 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.