J&J's Vaccine Rollout a Shot in the Arm for These Biotech ETFs

Biotech ETFs are climbing again on Monday, as the the CDC approved Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use this past weekend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted unanimously Sunday to recommend the use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for people aged 18 years and older.

The move is helping to buoy biotech ETFs like the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) and the Principal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (BTEC).

The FDA met Friday to review J&J’s request for emergency use authorization. Approvals occurred shortly after similar requests by Pfizer and Moderna.

After J&J submitted its vaccine study data to the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, the FDA staff said it determined that the clinical trial results and safety data were “consistent with the recommendations set forth in FDA’s guidance Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19.”

The vaccine’s level of protection varied by region, J&J said, with the shot demonstrating 66% effectiveness overall, 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America, and 57% in South Africa, where the B.1.351 variant is rapidly spreading. However, the FDA staff documents showed the vaccine was 64% effective in South Africa after about a month. The company said the vaccine prevented 100% of hospitalizations and deaths.

The news arrives amid efforts by the Biden administration to increase the supply of doses after states complained that demand was outpacing supply, with many Americans unable to get a second shot.

J&J Shots Are On Their Way

J&J is beginning to ship doses of its coronavirus vaccine already, with 3.9 million doses going out this week.

“We think, literally, within the next 24 to 48 hours, Americans should start receiving shots in arms,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said on NBC’s “Today” on Monday. “They’re literally rolling out with the trucks as we speak.”

The third authorized vaccine is designed to curb the spread of the pandemic as quickly as possible, but supplies of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will be in short supply initially. The 3.9 million doses shipping this week is all that is currently available, and there will be no additional shipments next week, administration officials said.

J&J hopes to increase production by the end of March, with 20 million total doses by that point and 100 million by the end of June, although production delays are still a concern.

Asked about delays, Gorsky said “let’s remember, this started literally as a genetic code information that was passed on in email 12 months ago.”

“Since then, we’ve been able to do extensive clinical trials involving up to 50,000 patients,” he added. “Trial sites around the world. I really can’t think of another time in our history where we’ve been able to ramp up at this kind of pace.”

Investors looking for additional ETFs that hold Johnson and Johnson can look to the iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF (IYH) and the First Trust Nasdaq Pharmaceuticals ETF (FTXH), which both contain J&J.

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