A single dose Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been granted approval for use in the UK.
The vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm Janssen, has been shown to be 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19.
Research has also found it offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death.
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20 million doses
The UK has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine and it is hoped that as only one-dose is needed, it will help to encourage more people to come forward for vaccination when they are called.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, previously said the jab could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people, where recalling them for a second dose is not always successful.
The first deliveries are expected to arrive in the country from later this year now the jab has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Announcing that the MHRA had approved the safety of the jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.
“As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”
Effective against multiple variants
Johnson & Johnson has said the vaccine works across multiple variants of coronavirus.
In a clinical trial involving 43,783 people, published earlier this year, the level of protection against moderate to severe Covid-19 infection was found to be 72 per cent in the United States part of the trial.
In the Latin America part, the level of protection was 66 per cent, while in the South African part of the trial, where a mutant variant of Covid-19 has been dominant, the efficacy was 57 per cent.
Overall, the efficacy from the trials combined was 67 per cent.
The MHRA is thought to have held back from approving the vaccine earlier after concerns were raised in the US about a link to extremely rare blood clots.
The clots are similar to those seen in a very small proportion of people having the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson jab also uses viral vector technology, where a modified version of a different virus is used to deliver instructions to the body’s cells to trigger the immune system to begin producing antibodies.
In April, the European Medicines Agency said a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the product information for the vaccine. This followed eight cases of blood clots in more than seven million people vaccinated in the US.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there is a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots, but concluded that the overall benefits of the jab “outweigh the risks of side effects”.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice for the Janssen vaccine before doses become available.