WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Johnson & Johnson’s new COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use, the Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, can now be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older, the FDA said.

The FDA found this week that Johnson & Johnson’s Baltimore-made vaccine is safe and effective at fighting COVID-19.

In trials, the vaccine was approximately 67% effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination, the FDA said.

 

The vaccine was also approximately 77% effective in preventing severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 85% effective in preventing severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination, the trials found.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be administered in single-doses and can be stored at the temperature of a regular refrigerator.

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The shot uses a cold virus, like a Trojan horse, to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along.

Employees of Emergent BioSolutions are working at a unique facility in southeast Baltimore to produce the vaccines.

“We actually grow the cell cultures, infect them with the viral vectors and then ultimately purify the viral vectors out, which elicits immune response in humans,” said Sean Kirk, Emergent BioSolutions’ executive vice president in charge of manufacturing.

The company granted WJZ rare access inside its secure campus in Bayview. Three hundred employees work there with dozens more supporting the facility remotely.

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“I want the people of Baltimore to be proud that Emergent is here, to be proud of the fact that many residents work in this facility,” Kirk said. “Every day, our folks are working long hours to beat this pandemic, and the thing that keeps them motivated is the fact that we’re going to be producing hundreds of millions of doses over the coming year.”

Emergent has a $480 million contract with Johnson & Johnson and another $174 million contract with AstraZeneca.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

This story was originally published on Feb. 27, 2021. 

CBS Baltimore Staff