More on Johnson & Johnson: 66 percent effective overall, but not against South Africa variant

A COVID-19 single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was 66 percent effective in preventing moderate or severe disease in a phase 3 clinical trial, a level of protection above the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) minimum but lower than the authorized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

There is also a warning sign from the variant found in South Africa. The efficacy dropped from 72 percent in the United States to 57 percent in South Africa, where a new coronavirus variant is prevalent.

That new variant has been more resistant to vaccines, including now this one, causing concern among experts. Still, a range of vaccines will likely provide protection against the variant.

The company plans to file for authorization from the FDA in “early February,” meaning the vaccine could soon add to the U.S. arsenal against the virus.

But, positive indications for staying out of the hospital at least: The company emphasized that its vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease and was 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization or death starting 28 days after vaccination. That is a crucial point, meaning that even if the vaccine is somewhat less effective in preventing people from getting sick at all, it still appears to protect well against people having to go to the hospital or dying.