A health worker opens a box of the Janssen vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Vela vaccination center, near Tor Vergata hospital in Rome, Saturday, April 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alessandra Tarantino

A health worker opens a box of the Janssen vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Vela vaccination center, near Tor Vergata hospital in Rome, Saturday, April 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alessandra Tarantino

Experts on the one-and-done advantage offered by Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine

NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach said that recommendations ‘should be available within 7-10 days’

Canada’s first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in the coming days, but provinces are still waiting for guidance on how best to use them.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said last week that Canada would receive 300,000 doses by the end of this week, with distribution to provinces and territories beginning in early May.

While the initial shipment may not seem large enough to be a game-changer in Canada’s rollout, experts say every little bit helps at this stage of the pandemic.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s not zero,” says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at Montreal’s McGill University and a member of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine task force.

“The impact may not be in the number, but in reaching specific groups of people that are harder to reach with the currently available vaccines.”

The ease of distribution offered by a single-dose shot — unlike the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among Johnson & Johnson’s biggest strengths, says Veillette.

But, he adds, it will be up to provinces to decide how they’ll allocate their doses, including which groups they’ll target with the one-and-done shots.

Ontario said Monday its deployment would reflect guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which is yet to come.

NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach said in an email to The Canadian Press on Monday that recommendations “should be available within 7-10 days.”

The first Johnson & Johnson shipment lands in Canada days after the U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted their recommended pause on the vaccine south of the border.

The pause, which ended Friday, was put in place nearly two weeks ago after reports that an exceedingly rare type of blood clot was seen in six recipients — out of 6.8 million doses given. The reviewing bodies found the risk of clotting to be very low and that the vaccine was safe and effective.

The clots appeared similar to the rare events seen in a small minority of recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which led NACI to initially recommend limiting that shot to those aged 55-years and older. The agency has since updated its guidance to allow people age 30 and older to get the vaccine.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says he expects NACI may attach an age-based cutoff to their guidance on Johnson & Johnson. But he stresses that the clotting issues were very rare.

“In Canada, we’re still having a lot of community transmission of COVID,” he says. “So for us, the benefit still greatly outweighs the risk.”

Chakrabarti says Johnson & Johnson’s product is conducive to large, mobile vaccine clinics that can be set up quickly to target populations in hard-hit communities or remote areas that may be harder to reach with other vaccines.

He says all of the approved vaccines can be used to alleviate pressure in hard-hit areas — adding that pop-up clinics have already set up in some Ontario hot spots, for example — but Johnson & Johnson brings another powerful tool.

“This has the benefit of only needing a single dose,” Chakrabarti says. “And that’s going to be huge. If you’re going to essential workers in Brampton, a one-and-done is amazing.”

Veillette says a single-dose inoculation can also help protect people like truck drivers or those experiencing homelessness, who may be harder to book for a second dose of another vaccine.

But while the risk of blood clots is rare, Veillette adds that any recipient would need to be informed of what signs to look for post-inoculation.

“It adds another level of complexity,” he says. “We have to at least make sure they’re amenable to reach a physician if they had symptoms.”

Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death.

Chakrabarti says all of the approved vaccines start working immediately to produce antibodies that can recognize future COVID-19 infections, but they likely need about a week or two to reach a good level of immunity.

“By about two weeks, you’re starting to already see it take effect and by one month you have pretty good (protection),” he says. “And it probably keep increasing after that.”

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Paul Chung is working as an early childhood educator at Cornerstone Children’s Centre in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Immigration pilot targets hard-to-fill jobs in West Kootenay

Program helps newcomers get permanent residency status in rural areas

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read