Update: FDA panel recommends Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for approval

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A third COVID-19 vaccine for the nation is one step closer to emergency use authorization, after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel recommended the Johnson & Johnson version for approval Friday afternoon.

According to a CNBC report, the recommendation by the panel was unanimous. Now, the FDA must decide if the vaccine will get its emergency use authorization.

Those at the Texas Medical Association said the vaccine is crucial to prevent people from ending up in the hospital.

“You know when people end up in the hospital with COVID, we start to see the blood clotting problems, failure of their kidneys, their heart, having strokes — all sorts of complications which is many times ultimately what causes the death of people,” Dr. Diana Fite, the association’s president said.

Johnson & Johnson reports its vaccine is 72% effective against COVID-19 in the country, and 85% effective in preventing some of the disease’s most serious symptoms 28 days after receiving it.

Those at the medical association said because this is a one-shot vaccine, it eliminates the extra step of having people return for the second shot like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Fite also believes it will also help address other logistical issues such as storage of the vaccine since hospitals can store the doses in a regular refrigerator and can last up to three months.

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state continues to get more and more vaccine doses from the federal government. The increased allocation could soon allow the state to begin vaccinating more Texans and move forward from Phase 1A and 1B.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports the vaccine could be available to the general public as early as spring.

“This week we’re getting the largest amount of vaccines ever, which is well over a million,” Abbott said. “I would anticipate we open up vaccine distribution very soon, and that means sometime in March.”

As of Friday morning, the latest numbers from Austin Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard show there are 285 COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. That’s down from last month when at times the numbers were doubled.

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