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

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read