16 minutes News

16 Minutes #58: The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and COVID Efficacy Rates

Jorge Conde, Lauren Richardson, and Zoran Basich

Posted March 15, 2021

In today’s episode of our news analysis show 16 Minutes, our topic is the ongoing buzz and the mixed news around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was the third vaccine for COVID approved under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA just a few weeks ago. Johnson & Johnson reported it as “the first single shot vaccine” and as having 85% efficacy in preventing severe disease across regions studied; meanwhile, STAT headlines reported 66% efficacy overall and 72% in the U.S. in preventing moderate to severe disease, calling it “a weapon but not a knockout punch.” And then we have various experts saying everything from “disappointing” to pointing out the dangers of comparing this vaccine to other vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, both of which we’ve talked about on this show. You can find all our ongoing vaccines coverage at a16z.com/vaccines.  

In this episode — since 16 Minutes is about teasing apart what’s hype/ what’s real in the news and where we are on the long arc of innovation — we asked the a16z bio team for their frameworks. 

Joining us are General Partner Jorge Conde, who has been in all our vaccine episodes and previously led strategy and product for a  pharmaceuticals company, and bio editorial partner Lauren Richardson, who was previously an editor at PLOS Biology and hosts our sister show Journal Club on Bio Eats World. She also holds a Ph.D in pharmacology.