Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine found to be 66% effective in global trial

Published: 29 January 2021, 4:10 PM

Post Desk : A single-dose Covid-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson has proved to be be 66 per cent effective in global trials, the company has revealed.

Trials in the US showed nearly three-quarters of recipients were protected from the disease, which has claimed has claimed nearly 2.2million lives around the world.

A higher efficacy rate of 72 per cent was observed in the US. The large trial involved nearly 44,000 volunteers across three continents and was conducted against multiple variants.

The vaccine is distinctive as, unlike others like the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs being administered in the UK, it only requires one jab.

Costing about £7 a dose, it’s also cheap – offering hope to poorer nations facing a struggle to obtain vaccines.

The UK has already ordered 30million doses, while the EU has 200milion on order and the US 100million.

The J&J trial showed a 66 per cent level of protection against moderate and severe Covid-19 in Latin America – but just 57 per cent in South Africa, where a particularly worrying variant of the novel coronavirus is circulating.

That compares less favourably with the efficacy level from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, calculated at around 90 per cent, while early data has put AstraZeneca’s protection level at around 70 per cent.

However those trials were conducted before the new variants had emerged.

More positively, the J&J shot was shown to be 85 per cent effective in stopping severe disease and preventing hospitalisation, across all geographies and against multiple variants.

That level of prevention “will potentially protect hundreds of millions of people from serious and fatal outcomes of Covid-19,” Dr Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has welcomed the news.

“If this jab is approved this could significantly bolster our vaccination programme, especially as a single-dose vaccine,” he tweeted.

“Once the full data has been submitted to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, they will consider the evidence to determine whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness & quality.

“We’re rolling-out vaccines as quickly as possible across the UK, with more than 7.4 million people given their first dose so far.”

The single-shot vaccine has been developed by the pharmaceutical arm Janssen.

The company is also conducted trials on a two-dose vaccine regime which it hopes will provide even stronger protection against the disease.

The vaccine could soon become the fifth in Britain’s armoury to fight the disease, which in the UK has killed more than 103,000 people – one of the highest death rates in the world.

The MHRA has already given approval for three Covid-19 vaccines – one from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, another by Pfizer and BioNTech, and a third from Moderna.

A fourth, by Novavax, was on Thursday revealed to be 89.3 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 in a Phase 3 trial in the UK. Reassuringly, it is around 86 per cent effective at protecting against the new UK variant.

Boris Johnson welcomed the “good news”. The medicines regulator is currently assessing the results.

The UK government is hoping to vaccinate 15 million vulnerable people by mid-February.

AstraZeneca is at the centre of a row with the European Union amid a shortfall of doses on the continent.

EU leaders are facing a backlash in their countries after coronavirus jabs were running out at centres including in Paris, Madrid and Lisbon after delays by Brussels in bulk-buying supplies and production problems.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen claimed that the EU’s contract with the firm was “crystal clear” and demanded its publication on Thursday.

AstraZeneca has been making large quantities of its vaccine in Britain, but has said a contract it signed with the UK government requires it to fulfil Britain’s order before it can send doses manufactured there abroad.

The company published the 41-page contract, with certain parts redacted. It says AstraZeneca must use its “Best Reasonable Efforts” to manufacture the EU doses, but the parties disagree on what this means.