Here’s Why Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Could Overtake Both Pfizer and Moderna

[ – 2021.08.18] Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has had some challenges this year. From production issues to some disquieting reports of blood clots possibly being linked to the vaccine, it hasn’t been the success the company was likely hoping it would be at this stage. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have generated far more revenue for those companies and appear to be the vaccines of choice for many people.

However, the delta variant may change that, as both Moderna and Pfizer are suggesting booster shots are necessary. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized a third dose for people with weakened immune systems. Meanwhile, a new study has found the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be highly effective against the delta variant, so booster shots may not be necessary for individuals who receive that vaccine.


The underdog vaccine?

Johnson & Johnson expects to make $2.5 billion in revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. That’s a drop in the bucket for the mammoth business, which generated more than $80 billion in revenue in 2020.

Moderna’s vaccine sales could reach $20 billion by the end of this year. And that’s still well behind Pfizer, which estimates its vaccine sales will hit $33.5 billion this year as it leads the way, producing up to 3 billion doses in 2021.

Johnson & Johnson only expects to produce up to 600 million doses of its single-shot vaccine this year, down from its earlier target of 1 billion.


High effectiveness against the delta variant

A new study from South Africa, called Sisonke, has shown Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to be highly effective against one of the most concerning variants around right now — delta. The trial is massive and involves 480,000 healthcare workers (Johnson & Johnson’s initial phase 3 trial was relatively large and had only 45,000 participants). Although the data hasn’t been peer-reviewed, the initial numbers are extremely encouraging — showing 71% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations in delta-related cases. And in terms of preventing death, the overall efficacy rose to 96%.

By comparison, studies on two doses of the Pfizer vaccine suggest efficacy rates could range between 42% and 96% against delta. Moderna has also had varying efficacy rates but it looks to be a bit higher, at around 76%. But what’s common to both is that people need two doses of the vaccine, as a single dose offers weaker protection. And that’s where the advantage could sway significantly in Johnson & Johnson’s favor as its single-shot vaccine would be significantly easier to administer.