The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared a Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine that works with just one dose instead of two.

Health experts in the country are said to be anxiously awaiting the vaccine to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S.

The FDA said Johnson & Johnsons vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

“This is really good news,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Associated Press Saturday. “The most important thing we can do right now is to get as many shots in as many arms as we can.”

Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer.

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