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Johnson & Johnson vaccine expected to get FDA green light

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 18:46:17-05

CLEVELAND — When Senator Rob Portman learned last fall from an Ohio company that they were having trouble finding people to take part in their vaccine trials he rolled up his sleeve and volunteered for the Johnson & Johnson trial.

“I thought by doing it and going public we might get more people to do it,” Portman said at the time.

On Wednesday, he told News 5 he’s glad he did after the Food & Drug Administration ruled the vaccine met the requirements for emergency use authorization which is likely to come on Friday.

"I am in that trial as you know and so I've been following it pretty closely and it appears as though the effectiveness will be a lower percentage than the double dose from Moderna and Pfizer but very strong effectiveness as to avoiding serious disease or death,” Portman said. “I think this is great news because it means that more vaccines will be available over the next couple of months in fact as soon as the authorization is delivered my understanding is they have already produced enough vaccine to begin to send it to places like Ohio.”

Johnson & Johnson hasn't been sitting around waiting for the green light from the FDA, they’ve been producing the vaccine as if they had it, ready to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March.

"We're prepared to ship immediately upon emergency use authorization nearly four million doses of our vaccine,” said Dr. Richard Nettles J&J V.P. of Medical Affairs.

Portman said that is only part of the equation.

“My sense is that Moderna and Pfizer are ramping up production as well so we're not going to have this bottleneck this shortage of vaccine in Ohio that we've seen over the past couple of months."

Congress has been informed those companies are on track to deliver 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every U.S. adult by July.

That plus the drop in cases we're seeing is no reason to let up, medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci said, as there continues to be a race between the vaccines and the variants.

"We've got to keep pushing and pushing because this thing could bounce back with the variants very very quickly. We cannot declare victory because that curve is coming down so sharply,” said Fauci.

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