All three Covid vaccines highly effective, urges people to take available shot

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House press briefing, at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he would take the newly approved Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and urged Americans to take whichever shot is available when they are eligible.

The Food and Drug Administration approved J&J’s vaccine on Saturday, giving the U.S. a third tool to fight the pandemic following vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. The company expects to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March.

“All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that’s the one that’s available now, I would take it,” Fauci said. “I personally would do the same thing. I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.”

The J&J vaccine is different from the others because it’s a one-dose regimen and does not require patients to return for a second dose. It can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for months. The shot has demonstrated 66% effectiveness overall, 72% in the U.S. and 57% in South Africa, which has seen a rapid spread of the B.1.351 variant.

Though the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed higher efficacy rates in trials using two doses versus J&J’s single-dose vaccine, Fauci insisted that the J&J shot is not a weaker vaccine and said trial data shouldn’t be compared for the three shots because they were tested at different times.

“You now have three highly efficacious vaccines, for sure,” Fauci said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

While the country is seeing a decline in new coronavirus cases and an improvement in the vaccination rate, Fauci warned states not to prematurely loosen pandemic restrictions, a move which could lead to another surge in infections.

Cases have plummeted from 300,000 a day to roughly 70,000, a baselines that’s still too high, Fauci said.

“We don’t want to continue to prevent people from doing what they want to do. But let’s get down to a good level,” Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Let’s get many, many more people vaccinated. And then you could pull back on those types of public health measures.”

“But right now, as we’re going down and plateauing is not the time to declare victory because we’re not victorious yet,” he said.

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