Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press conference at the White House in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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The Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he would be taking the newly approved Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and urged Americans to take the available shot if they are eligible.
The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday approved J & J's vaccine, giving the US a third tool to fight the pandemic after vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. The company expects to ship 20 million cans by the end of March.
"All three of them are really pretty good, and people should go for whoever is best available to them," Fauci said on NBC's Meet the Press.
"If you go to a place and have J&J, and that's the one that's available now, I'd take it," Fauci said. "Personally, I would do the same. I think people need to be vaccinated as soon and as quickly as possible."
The J&J vaccine is different from the others in that it is a single dose and patients do not have to return for a second dose. It can be stored at refrigerator temperature for months. The shot showed an overall effectiveness of 66%, 72% in the USA and 57% in South Africa, where variant B.1.351 spread rapidly.
Although the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed higher efficacy rates in two-dose studies compared to J & J's single-dose vaccine, Fauci insisted that the J&J shot isn't a weaker vaccine, and the trial data shouldn't be for the three Shots are compared as they were tested at different times.
"You must now have three highly effective vaccines," said Fauci. "There is no doubt about that."
As the country sees a decline in new coronavirus cases and an improvement in vaccination rates, Fauci warned states to relax restrictions on pandemics prematurely, which could lead to a renewed spike in infections.
Cases have dropped from 300,000 a day to around 70,000, a baseline that's still too high, Fauci said.
"We don't want to keep preventing people from doing what they want. But let's get to a good level," Fauci told CBS "Face the Nation." "Let's vaccinate a lot more people. And then you could withdraw these kinds of public health measures."
"But right now that we are going under and reaching a plateau, it is not time to declare victory because we are not yet victorious," he said.