Persons vaccinated using the the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine might need to get a booster dose so as to get 100 percent protection against severe disease according to findings from Phase III trials.
The trials that were carried out by the manufacturers of the vaccine show that the single-dose vaccine provides strong and long lasting protection against hospitalizations as a result of the disease.
A statement issued on the company’s website on Tuesday on findings from the EMSEMBLE study which has 45,000 participants from around the world shows another shot of the vaccine administered 14 days after the first jab offer 100 percent protection against severe or critical COVID-19, 75 percent protection against symptomatic COVID globally.
The Global head of Research and Development at J&J Mathai Mammen says the results of the Phase III study shows that the vaccine provides long lasting protection against COVID-19.
“Our large real-world evidence and Phase 3 studies confirm that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides strong and long-lasting protection against COVID-19-related hospitalisations,” he said. “Additionally, our Phase 3 trial data further confirms protection against COVID-19-related death. 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.”
The pharmaceutical company also reported that a study had found that a single shot of its coronavirus vaccine was 79 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and 81 percent effective at preventing hospitalisations. This efficacy rate is significantly higher than the 66 percent rate that was shared when the vaccine was first authorized for emergency use.
Paul Stoffels, the Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson says the findings show the booster will extend the duration of protection the vaccine offers.
“It is critical to prioritize protecting as many people as possible against hospitalization and death given the continued spread of COVID-19,” he said. “A single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that is easy to use, distribute and administer, and that provides strong and long-lasting protection is crucial to vaccinating the global population. At the same time, we now have generated evidence that a booster shot further increases protection against COVID-19 and is expected to extend the duration of protection significantly.”
Findings of the study are yet to be shared with the World Health Organisation.
Uganda ordered for 9 million doses of the J&J vaccines and delivery is expected to take place before the end of this year. At the time the order was made, no recommendations of booster doses were known.
Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization says the country is closely following all vaccine related research and will make its decisions accordingly. He says for now, no decision has been made about booster doses.
“This talk has been going around and we shall wait to make a decision,” he said.” Our decision will be backed by science but for now I think it is important for people to first get the initial doses before we talk of booster doses”