FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

President Joe Biden in a statement called the authorization “exciting news for all Americans” but cautioned that the country most continue to follow basic public health measures, such as masking and keeping distance — especially as new, more contagious virus variants spread.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable,” Biden said. “We must continue to remain vigilant, act fast and aggressively, and look out for one another — that is how we are going to reach that light together.”

The vaccine is 66 percent effective against broad coronavirus infection but particularly good at curbing severe illness, hospitalization and death, which J&J executives say is most important for consumers.

An expert panel advising the FDA agreed, voting unanimously late Friday to recommend the vaccine for people 18 years and older.

“We need vaccines that are effective and well-tolerated. And importantly, ones that are simple to deploy,” Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group, said during a J&J presentation before the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Friday.

State and local health officials have also expressed optimism about the incoming vaccine.