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Vanderbilt researcher breaks down Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

By the end of the week, drug maker Johnson and Johnson is expected submit its COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — By the end of the week, drug maker Johnson and Johnson is expected submit its COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

If approved, it will be the third vaccine available to fight the coronavirus. 

While research has found the Johnson and Johnson vaccine provides lower overall levels of immunity than its competitors, a Vanderbilt researcher that studies the Johnson and Johnson vaccine explained why be believes it's a good option. 

"My understanding is that in the next few days there will be some submissions to the FDA," said Dr. Buddy Creech.

 Dr. Buddy Creech is the director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program. and recently did research on the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

"What we can see is that the vaccine is incredible at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths at a variety of locations around the world," said Creech.

While overall it has been shown to be 66% effective to protect against moderate to severe COVID-19 infections - which is less than the others - research found it's 85% effective against preventing severe disease.

Creech said understanding COVID-19 definitions helps with understanding the results.

"If you have fever and just two symptoms of COVID-19, that qualifies as having moderate versus mild disease. And the moment you have oxygen levels that drop below 93%, you are classified as having severe disease - even if you don't go to the hospital and get admitted," said Creech. "Not a single person shot in the arm by a Johnson and Johnson vaccine ended up in the hospital because of COVID-19, and no one died because of COVID-19."

Creech said advantages to Johnson and Johnson vaccine are that it is one dose, has a longer shelf life, and easier storage requirements.

It's made differently than Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

"By having multiple types of vaccines that are made in different ways, we know, personalize vaccine recommendations for persons who maybe have a side effect," Creech.

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He added the more vaccines on the market, the more shots in arms, and hopefully that means life can return to normal for all of us.

"If we can take this particular virus and turn it into a common cold, we have beaten the pandemic. We have won if this becomes nothing more than a sore throat and runny nose for two to three days," said Creech.