First doses of Janssen vaccine could be available in Portugal from April-June

The first 1.25 million doses of the Johnson&Johnson-Janssen vaccine could be available in Portugal during the second trimester (April – June), Janssen’s medical director Manuel Salavessa has announced. 

First results of the vaccine’s Phase III trials are due this month. 

If positive, hopes are that EMA – the European Medicines Agency – will give the one-shot vaccine the approval it needs. 

Portugal has ordered 4.5 million doses of this vaccine.

Said Dr Salavessa: “Considering it is a vaccine that requires only one dose, we believe it will make a very significant contribution in terms of the Portuguese population and in the combat of the pandemic”.

Explaining how the Janssen vaccine works, the New York Times adds that this is a product that can be stored for up to three months if correctly refrigerated (click here)

Portugal’s vaccination programme began on December 27 and has already started administering the second shots of the BioNTech/ Pfizer vaccines.

In total, Portugal has pre-ordered 4.5 million of the BioNTech/ Pfizer shots, just 1.9 million of the Moderna vaccine, and 6.9 million of the UK’s AstraZeneca/ Oxford. This latter vaccine is already being widely rolled out in UK but has yet to receive EMA emergency use authorisation for Europe.

According to the latest information in Portugal, all care home residents should have received their first shots of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine by the end of next week, though it could take until the end of March before ‘Phase One’ of the national programme is completed. This should see covered all health professionals, care home residents, security forces and otherwise deemed essential workers, and people over the age of 50 with at least one of three pathologies: heart disease, kidney disease or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The second phase is due to begin in April and include people of or above the age of 65, and those aged between 50 and 64 that suffer from at least one of the following: diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease, liver failure, high-blood pressure, obesity (other illnesses may be determined before this phase begins).

Once Phases One and Two are concluded, Phase Three will basically include the rest of the population.

None of the vaccines so far available have been able to give a time-span on the protection they provide against Covid-19, nor have they yet been able to confirm whether or not people who receive the vaccines remain ‘infectious’ (ie able to transmit the virus).

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