With new vaccines, US racing against coronavirus mutations

A new coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson appears to be another promising tool in the fight against COVID-19, but the U.S. is racing against problematic virus mutations that could throw a wrench into the system.

Johnson & Johnson on Friday announced its vaccine candidate offered strong protection against severe COVID-19 and prevented hospitalization and death, which could provide a major boost to the country’s overwhelmed health system.

The company is expected to file for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) next week, potentially giving the U.S. a third vaccination to use against the virus.

Vaccine experts praised the results, and cautioned against comparing them head-to-head with the current Moderna and Pfizer vaccines already in use.

“The goal of this vaccine, it’s to keep you out of the hospital, keep you out of the ICU and keep you out of the morgue. Obviously it’s not fun having a mild infection, but it’s not a burden to the health care system,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.