Third US vaccine could raise big question: Which shots are best?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation is poised to get a third vaccine against COVID-19, but because at first glance the Johnson & Johnson shot may not be seen as equal to other options, health officials are girding for the question: Which one is best?

If cleared for emergency use, the J&J vaccine would offer a one-dose option that could help speed vaccinations, tamp down a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people in the U.S. and stay ahead of a mutating virus.

“I think it’s going to be huge,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the public health department in Marion County, Indiana, which includes Indianapolis. She expects the easier-to-use vaccine will give local officials more flexibility for mobile vaccination clinics or pop-up events.

The challenge will be explaining how protective the J&J shot is after the astounding success of the first U.S. vaccines.

Two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots were found to be about 95% effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The numbers from J&J’s study are not that high, but they are not an apples-to-apples comparison. One dose of the J&J vaccine was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19. After adding in moderate cases, the total effectiveness dropped to about 66%. Read more:

Here’s an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is encouraging people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the shot is quick, harmless and will help protect others against the disease.
  • Democrats are ready to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package through the House on Friday.
  • Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America’s consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January, the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery from the pandemic recession.
  • Canadian regulators have authorized AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine. Health Canada on Friday approved the vaccine to be used in people 18 and over.
  • The state of emergency Japan set up to curb the spread of the coronavirus will be lifted in six urban areas this weekend and remain in the Tokyo area for another week, a government minister said Friday.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest virus numbers.

Virus by the numbers