Johnson & Johnson booster could mean end to single-shot COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was once seen as a valuable tool in vaccinating hard-to-reach populations. When it was authorized for use, many rushed to sign up for the convenience of a one-and-done shot. It might not be one-and-done for long.

Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that a two-dose regimen could offer more protection. The company published data showing options for a second dose at the two-month and six-month mark.

Johnson and Johnson reported a second dose 2 months later was:

  • 100% effective against severe infection
  • 84% effective against symptomatic infection
  • Produced four to six times higher antibody levels

At the six month mark:

  • Antibody levels were nine times higher after one week
  • Antibody levels were 12 time in higher at four weeks

“Our single-shot vaccine generates strong immune responses and long-lasting immune memory. And, when a booster of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is given, the strength of protection against COVID-19 further increases,” said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson, in a press release.

While the company touted the benefits of a second dose, in a press release, they also referred back to a real-world study of vaccines. That study said was no evidence of decreased protection over time- even after the delta variant became dominant.

Johnson & Johnson will still need to get approval from the FDA and Moderna.

The vaccine-maker said the booster was safe and generally well-tolerated. Specifics into side effects for the Johnson & Johnson booster were not published. Side effects after the first dose are listed as:

  • Injection site reactions
  • Headache, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unusual feeling in the skin (such as tingling or a crawling feeling) (paresthesia), decreased feeling or sensitivity, especially in the skin (hypoesthesia)
  • Tinnitus
  • Diarrhea, vomiting

Last week, an FDA panel opted to recommend boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 65 and older along with people at high risk for infection. Moderna submitted initial data for its proposed booster earlier this month as well.

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