There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the United States, the one developed by Moderna and the one developed by Pfizer BioNTech. Both of these vaccines need to be stored at low temperatures, and both require two doses. Both also prove to be very effective against the original strain of COVID-19 with around a 95% effective rate.

There might be a new vaccine approved for use in the United States very, very soon. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being reviewed by the FDA, and if it is approved, it could be very good news.

Dan Barouch is a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and in 2020, he led a lot of the early research about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said, “With a J&J vaccine, we’ll be able to accelerate the vaccine rollout for our country and for the world.”

Unlike the other two vaccines, the J&J vaccine only requires one dose. It also can be stored at normal pharmacy refrigeration temperatures. The J&J vaccine also has milder side effects that the other two vaccines and there have not been any reports of negative allergic reactions.

While the J&J vaccine has a lower efficacy rate than the other two vaccines (about 72% instead of 95%), it has proven more effective against the new strain of COVID-19 that first showed up in South Africa. In fact, the government in South Africa has recently switched to giving out the J&J vaccine.

The J&J vaccine has proven to be about 64% effective against the highly-contagious strain of COVID-19 in South Africa and 82% effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19 from this same strain of the virus. Although this vaccine is not as effective at preventing the original strain of the virus as the Modera and Pfizer vaccines, it is still 86% effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19.

Most likely a third shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be recommended to prevent against the South African strain of the virus. Instead, we might be able to choose to just get one dose of the J&J vaccine. Which would you choose?