US expert panel debating Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine authorisationFriday, February 26, 2021
WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A US panel of independent experts was meeting Friday to discuss whether to grant Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 shot emergency approval, likely paving the way for a third vaccine to start shipping in the world's hardest-hit country.
The committee's 22 members, who were convened by the Food and Drug Administration and include leading scientists as well consumer and industry representatives, will hold a daylong, live streamed virtual meeting to decide if the known benefits of the drug outweigh its risks for use in people 18 and over.
"We look forward to a very productive day as we consider the third emergency use authorization submission for COVID-19 vaccine, this one from Janssen," said top FDA scientist Peter Marks, referring to the J&J subsidiary responsible for developing the product.
The meeting is an exercise in transparency without parallel among other advanced countries, giving the public an inside look at the details of the scientific debate.
The panel will vote around 5:00 pm Eastern and though their recommendations aren't binding, they are usually followed. The members are widely expected to vote in favour.
An emergency use authorisation (EUA) would soon follow, making the J&J vaccine the third to be greenlighted in the United States after Pfizer's and Moderna's were provisionally approved in December.
"If the FDA approves the use of this new vaccine, we have a plan to roll it out as quickly as Johnson & Johnson can make it," President Joe Biden said Thursday.
Administration officials said this week they hoped to deliver three to four million doses next week, pending emergency authorisation.
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