FDA to authorize third vaccine to help end pandemic

A panel with the Food and Drug Administration will meet Friday on whether to recommend emergency use authorization for Johnson and Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

If authorized, which is expected, the rollout of the vaccine will likely begin early next week.

If authorized, health officials will work over the weekend to begin distributing the vaccine, much like how Moderna's and Pfizer's versions were handled.

Earlier this week, the FDA deemed the Johnson and Johnson vaccine "safe and effective" 

Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco, says the third vaccine will speed up the process to get the general population vaccinated.

"It's going to allow certain sectors that we're trying to preferentially vaccinate right now, like law enforcerment, child care through grade 12 teachers, and food and agricultural workers put a dent in that population," said Rutherford. "It won't take care of everyone, it'll put a dent."

J&J's vaccine is said to be 65% effective; that's lower compared to Moderna and Pfizer which tested to be more than 90% effective.

However, experts say not to worry so much about those numbers. The vaccine is said to be 85% effective in preventing severe cases, and nearly 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death.

The panel will likely recommend authorization by the end of Friday; the FDA is expected to officially approve the emergency use authorization by the weekend.