Moderna scientist says Johnson & Johnson’s shot is ‘darn good’ too


  • One of the scientists who helped develop Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine applauded Johnson & Johnson’s new trial results, even though they are not as stellar as her own.
  • J&J announced on Friday its COVID-19 vaccine was 72% effective at curbing symptomatic infections in US trials, while Moderna’s was more than 94% effective at the same.
  • “Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good enough,” vaccine expert Kizzmekia Corbett said on Twitter. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A leading coronavirus vaccine scientist who helped develop Moderna’s highly effective vaccine says Johnson & Johnson’s new trial results, which tout 72% efficacy for the one-shot vaccine in the US, look “darn good.”

“Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good enough,” Kizzmekia Corbett, scientific lead for coronavirus vaccines in the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, wrote on Twitter Friday.

Corbett was instrumental in developing Moderna’s new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which (along with Pfizer’s vaccine) is one of two vaccines authorized for emergency use to fight the pandemic in the US.

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s shots are impressive vaccines, touting efficacies higher than 94% in clinical trials of tens of thousands of people in the US and around the world.

According to a J&J press release out Friday, the company’s one-shot adenovirus vaccine was 72% effective at curbing symptomatic COVID-19 infections in the US, 66% effective globally, and 85% effective at preventing severe disease.

“This is darn good for 1-dose … ‘in a pandemic,'” Corbett added.

The new vaccine from J&J is also cheaper, easier to manufacture and store, and quicker to administer (just one shot) when compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s.

Read More: How does Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine stack up against shots from Pfizer and Moderna?

We’ve been ‘spoiled’ by Pfizer and Moderna’s stellar results, Corbett said

kizzmekia corbett nih vaccine

Kizzmekia Corbett, senior research fellow and scientific lead for coronavirus vaccines in the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, talks with President Donald Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins on March 3, 2020.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci


Corbett said she’s “feared” people would be “spoiled by mRNA” trial results, and that any other vaccine (like J&J’s adenovirus vaccine) might be perceived as a “lesser than” technology.

J&J’s shot, she said, is “good enough.”

Indeed, US Food and Drug Administration guidance to COVID-19 vaccine makers recommends efficacy “of at least 50%,” a bar that J&J’s new shot easily clears, both in the US and around the world.

With new variants circulating quickly, it could be another tool to stop deadly infections — even if it may not be as potent as mRNA vaccines at completely halting illnesses.

“There were essentially no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccine group, whereas in the placebo [non-vaccinated] group, there were,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, said during a White House press briefing on Friday, after J&J’s trial results were released.

“This really tells us that we have now a value-added additional vaccine candidate, that will of course, as happens with every candidate, present the details of their data to the FDA.”

The company says it will aim to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization with the FDA next week.

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