Johnson & Johnson Announces Single Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Is 66 percent Effective

Grant Boone
January 31, 2021

Initial data from Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson showed their vaccines significantly less effective at preventing COVID-19 in trial participants in South Africa.

The company plans to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use approval as soon as early February. The vaccine achieved 72% efficacy in protecting against moderate to severe Covid-19 infection in the United States, compared to 57% in South Africa.

Johnson & Johnson said the vaccine had 85% efficacy in severe coronavirus cases and 66% efficacy in moderate and severe cases.

In the United States, two types of two-dose vaccines were granted emergency use authorization in December - one developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE, and another from Moderna Inc.

But the level of protection was lower in a smaller, mid-stage trial conducted in South Africa, where overall efficacy was 49.4 per cent.

Anyone taking the vaccine would be required to sign a consent form "so it's clear that you agreed to it", according to the minister. But the figure rose to 60 per cent among the 94 per cent of trial participants who were HIV-negative.

"This is not the case yet ... but I think it's a very high likelihood that one day that will happen", Bourla said at the World Economic Forum.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: "This is yet more good news from Janssen on vaccines". Full results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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J&J's vaccine uses a common cold virus known as adenovirus type 26 to introduce coronavirus proteins into cells in the body and trigger an immune response.

South Africans will be required to register on this system before they receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Department of Health has stated. "We are seeing travel bans on South African flights because there are still so many unanswered questions on the new variant", she said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has promised that at least 100 million shots will be administered in his first 100 days in office, but concerns about supply disruptions have added uncertainty to that target. He said the company will meet the US order by June, and make a billion doses this year globally.

J&J has said it plans to deliver 1 billion doses in 2021 and will produce the vaccine in the United States, Europe, South Africa and India.

The safety profile of Janssen's Covid-19 vaccine was deemed to be consistent with other products developed using the J&J subsidiary's AdVac technology, including its Ebola vaccine.

The UK has already pre-ordered 30m doses.

J&J is studying the effects of its vaccine given in two doses at two months apart, but results of that trial won't be available until this summer, Stoffels said.

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