Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson said Thursday it is seeking approval for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA said it has scheduled a Feb. 26 meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to discuss an emergency use authorization for the company.
In January, Johnson & Johnson released a report that said its vaccine had a 66% rate of preventing the coronavirus infection in a large global trial. However, the vaccine was found in trials not to protect as well against the South Africa virus variant, which is highly transmissible and spreading around the globe, officials said.
After previous such meetings of the FDA committee, vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna received authorization within a day.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which each require two doses to be fully inoculated, are 95% effective, studies show.
Johnson & Johnson, which said it will also apply for European authorization within weeks, has a single-dose vaccine that does not need to be frozen during shipping, which the two other approved vaccines do.
In January, Paul Stoffels, the company's chief scientific officer, said the drugmaker would have vaccine ready to ship by March.
"Upon authorization of our investigational COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, we are ready to begin shipping," Stoffels said in a statement.
The news of a possible new vaccine to fight the coronavirus pandemic comes as global confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, neared 105 million and deaths totaled nearly 2.3 million.
The United States leads the world with more than 26.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and by late Thursday had recorded 455,657 deaths.
However, the number of daily deaths is falling, from a record high of 4,466 on Jan. 12, to 3,912 Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said COVID-19 deaths could fall even further by next week. But she also worried that the upcoming Super Bowl game on Sunday could lead to people relaxing coronavirus protocols to gather and watch the major football event.