How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work?

·2-min read

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is the fourth coronavirus jab approved for use in the UK.

But how does it work, and what does it do?

– What kind of vaccine is it?

Developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen, the jab is an adenovirus vaccine.

These are based on weakened versions of adenoviruses, which are a group of viruses that typically infect membranes of the eyes, respiratory tract, urinary tract, intestines and nervous system, and include the common cold.

– How does it work?

Like the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, the J&J vaccine 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.

Coronavirus – Sat Mar 27, 2021
(Andrew Milligan/PA)

– How many doses has the UK ordered?

The UK has ordered 20 million doses of the single-dose jab.

The Vaccine Taskforce originally secured 30 million doses, based on the predicted clinical need at the time.

But given the scale and pace of the vaccine rollout in the UK the government has decided to amend its original order.

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).

– But were there not concerns about the vaccine being linked to blood clots?

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there is a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots.

But it concluded that the overall benefits of the vaccine “outweigh the risks of side effects”.

J&J previously confirmed it would delay rollout of its single-dose vaccine across Europe after the US paused its administration to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice for the Janssen vaccine before doses become available.

Covid-19 vaccine doses in the UK
(PA Graphics)

– What other vaccines does the UK have?

So far the Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are being administered in the UK.

The approval of the J&J vaccine comes as it is thought that the most vulnerable groups of people, including the elderly, will be offered a booster jab before next winter.

– How many vaccine does has the UK secured?

The UK has secured early access to 517 million doses of eight of vaccine candidates. This includes agreements with:

– Pfizer/BioNTech for 100 million doses
– Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses
– Moderna ​for 17 million doses
– Janssen for 20 million doses
– Novavax for 60 million doses
– Valneva for 100 million doses
– CureVac ​for 50 million doses
– GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses

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