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

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Mill Bay Thrifty Foods

Employee tested positive, last worked on May 8

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

The Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society and Mosaic Forest Management are teaming up to create more trails in the Cowichan Lake area. (File photo)
Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers and Mosaic partner to build new trails

Non-motorized recreational trails to be built on 1,000 hectares of forest land

Madison Holman displays a cat stuffie she received from her school while awaiting surgery at BC Children’s Hospital. (Submitted)
GoFundMe set up for Duncan girl following cancer diagnosis

Madison Holman, 11, was rushed to Vancouver for emergency surgery

Capitals’ Kahlil Fontana blueliner evades Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Ethan Hersant during second-period B.C. Hockey League Island Division action at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Susan Quinn/Black Press Media)
Cowichan Capitals go out with a bang

Caps finish BCHL season strong with 6-1 thumping of Clippers

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Discarded construction materials make up nearly 40 per cent of all materials sent to the landfill from sources in the city of Victoria. (Zero Waste Victoria)
Victoria looks to curb waste by turning demolitions into deconstructions

Community drafting bylaw forcing developers to be better at salvage and recycling

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance after sustaining life-threatening injuries. (Collin C photo)
Motorcyclist airlifted with life-threatening injuries after Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

Most Read