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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's a larger scientific conversation around how to handle the clinical trial results of the COVID-19 vaccines.

What they're saying: Some scientists have warned emphatically that giving only one dose to people is a bad idea, even if it'd double the number of people who could be vaccinated in the short term.

  • "It will be an absolute disaster if a large number of people only take one dose of the vaccine. It is very likely that protective immunity will wane rapidly in individuals who only take the first shot and efficacy will be nowhere near the 95% reported after the two-dose regimen," tweeted Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean for Emory School of Medicine & Grady Health System.
  • "Too much uncertainty in short- and long-term efficacy," agreed Natalie Dean, a professor specializing in vaccine study design at the University of Florida. "And the optics of changing the plan now, for a regimen that hasn't been tested directly, are not great."

But some argue that we should at least study a one-dose regimen.

  • "*IF* a single dose DOES work in less vulnerable [people] and IS sufficiently durable (even if not perfect), it might mean vaccinating billions of additional people in 2021 & reach herd immunity faster," tweeted Michael Mina, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.