© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: In this illustration, medical vials and syringes are seen in front of the J&J logo
(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 said on Thursday it asked US health regulators to authorize its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The drug maker’s application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follows its Jan.29 report in which it said the vaccine had a 66% infection prevention rate in its large global trial. J & J’s single injection vaccine could help increase supply and simplify the US immunization campaign, amid concerns of further surges due to the more contagious UK variant of the coronavirus and potential for lower efficacy of the vaccine against the variant that first emerged in South Africa. Unlike the two currently licensed vaccines from Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 Inc / BioNTech SE and Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc, J & J’s does not require a second injection nor should it be shipped frozen. After the company’s request, regulators will need time to analyze the data and an advisory committee will need to meet. The company’s chief scientific officer said last month that J&J was on track to launch the vaccine in March. Shares of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer saw little change in after-hours trading. The United States has an agreement to purchase 100 million doses of J & J’s vaccine for one billion dollars and the option to purchase an additional 200 million doses. The company has said it has doses ready to be delivered after emergency approval. Its goal is to deliver 1 billion doses by 2021 with production in the United States, Europe, South Africa and India.