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Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Reaches 66% Efficacy Rate in Global Trials

Johnson & Johnson said its one-shot vaccine provided a 66% protection rate for patients suffering moderate to severe forms of the coronavirus following a large-scale global trial.

Johnson & Johnson Inc.  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report said Friday that its developing coronavirus vaccine has a 72% efficacy rate in U.S. trials, a lower-than-expected result that sent its shares lower in pre-market trading.

The one-shot vaccine, which doesn't require excessively low temperatures to keep in storage, reached an overall efficacy rate of 66% in the 44,000 person study of patients with moderate to severe forms of COVID-19. The trial also indicated an 85% rate of protection against patients with more severe forms, and a 57% rate of efficacy against the new strain of the virus recently identified in South Africa. 

Rival vaccines from Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report notched efficacy rates of around 95%, but weren't tested during the mutation period that saw new strains from South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Johnson & Johnson said it would seek Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as early as next week. 

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"Johnson & Johnson embarked on the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, and has brought the full force of our capabilities, as well as tremendous public-private partnerships, to enable the development of a single-shot vaccine," said CEO Alex Gorsky."Our goal all along has been to create a simple, effective solution for the largest number of people possible, and to have maximum impact to help end the pandemic." 

"We're proud to have reached this critical milestone and our commitment to address this global health crisis continues with urgency for everyone, everywhere," Gorsky added.

Johnson & Johnson shares were marked 3.3% lower in early trading following news of the vaccine trial results to change hands at $163.60 each.  

Pfizer shares were marked 2% higher at $36.60 each, while Moderna surged 12.5% to $179.50 each.