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

Just Posted

Kaleb Robertson at bat during the 18UAAA North Island Cubs season opener against the Cowichan Valley Mustangs on June 19, 2021. Photo by Sean Feagan / Black Press Media.
PHOTOS: Minor baseball players and fans welcome return to play

18UAAA Cubs start regular season action after long wait with convincing win against Mustangs

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

New literacy framework will allow teachers to assess whether students have the necessary skills to become strong readers, and intervene early if they need help. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River school board creating new literacy framework

New plan aims to reverse declining literacy in SD72

Duncan Hurd says his fence has been smashed multiple times in the past month. Photo courtesy Duncan Hurd
Vandalism escalating in Campbell River neighbourhood, resident says

Neighbours want to see vandals ‘identified’

Kandi Kehler has just over two weeks left in her rental, but doesn’t know where she is going to go next. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
12 days left: Campbell River family at end of lease with nowhere else to go

Biggest fear coming to life for Campbell River mom

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read