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More vaccine trials still underway as Johnson and Johnson receives FDA authorization

Posted at 10:51 PM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-28 00:33:49-05

(WXYZ) — While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine becomes the third COVID-19 vaccine to gain emergency use authorization in the United States, it likely wont be the last.

Other vaccines, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, are still in clinical trials. So far, results look promising. At least five others are also in clinical trials.

Quinn Wright from Madison Heights is taking part in a Novavax clinical trial at the University of Michigan.

“I was excited but kinda like, 'oh man what if I'm doing this and getting salt water pushed into my arm,'” Wright said.

As an asthmatic 40-year-old, Wright wanted to get vaccinated but figured it would be months before he would be eligible. He decided a clinical trial was his best chance.

"I believe the sooner we get vaccinated the sooner we can get back to normal, so I jumped at the opportunity,” Wright said.

Phase 3 trial results from the U.K. showed Novavax to be 89.3% effective overal and 85.6% effective against the U.K. variant. Against the original COVID strain, it was 95.6% effective.

“We have more reason for optimism now than we’ve ever had before in this pandemic,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health.

Dr. Sims says more vaccines will only help get the virus under control, and by preventing cases it prevents more variants from emerging. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is the latest to get FDA approval. While it appears to be not as effective at preventing COVID-19 as Pfizer or Moderna, those who took it and still caught the virus had much milder cases.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so any vaccine we have that really reduces the spread of this disease and saves people lives is a good thing,” Dr. Sims said.

Right now across the United States there are more than 100 active clinical trials for vaccines, 59 of them actively recruiting participants.

Wright still doesn’t know for sure if he has the shot, but does know he’s making a difference.

“I think it's momentous just to be a part of that history," Wright said. "When we look back at it, I think it will feel a lot more special than it does right now.”

Both the Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are different than Pfizers and Moderna’s in that they don’t use MRNA technology. None of them contain the actual COVID-19 virus.