The world’s first single-shot Covid vaccine seems to offer some protection against the virus, but not as well as some two-shot rivals, trial results have shown.
The Janssen jab, from American company Johnson & Johnson, could be rolled out alongside vaccines developed by the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax.
With three vaccines already approved for use in the UK, and another seeking regulatory approval, what does this new development mean?
– How effective is the single-dose jab?
It was found to be 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19, but offers high protection against people needing to go to hospital, trial results have shown.
The firm said the jab was 85% effective in preventing severe disease “and demonstrated complete protection against Covid-19-related hospitalisation and death as of day 28”.
The jab worked across multiple variants of coronavirus, including the South African variant which has been worrying scientists, the firm said.
– Which vaccines are available in the UK?
So far the UK has approved three jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca and they are being given to people across the country, while supplies of the Moderna vaccine are expected to arrive in the spring.
The Novavax vaccine, which has shown to be 89% effective at preventing Covid-19 in clinical trials, could become the next to be approved. This vaccine is now being assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This means the Janssen vaccine would be the fifth vaccine available in the UK if it is approved for use by the MHRA.
– How many doses of the Janssen vaccine have been secured?
The UK has secured access to 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
The UK already had access to 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, seven million doses from Moderna and 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab – the first agreement the firms signed with any government.
The UK has also has agreed access to three vaccines still in development and waiting for approval, including:
– 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine (pending approval from the MHRA)
– 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by Valneva
– 60 million doses of protein adjuvant vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur
In total, the UK has secured 357 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines.
– Will the MHRA now approve the jab for the UK?
Johnson & Johnson will need to apply to regulators for approval. Only once the vaccine has been approved, could it be available for use within the NHS within weeks.
– How many injections are required?
Unlike existing vaccines being used in the UK, Janssen vaccine trials have focused on its effectiveness as a single dose.
– Where will the vaccine be available?
The vaccine is estimated to remain stable for two years at minus 20C and at least three months at 2-8C, which will make the logistics of rolling the jab out easier as it can be stored in a standard fridge. It could be available at designated vaccination sites across the UK, alongside existing vaccines.
– How do we know the vaccines are safe?
Researchers reported their trials do not suggest any significant safety concerns.
British regulators have been conducting a so-called rolling review of the data from Johnson & Johnson. This means that rather than waiting until the end of the clinical trial to assess the data, experts from the MHRA have been assessing data on a rolling basis during the trial and helped speed up the approval process.
– Who can get the vaccine?
The Government said everyone over the age of 18 living in the UK will be offered a coronavirus vaccine by autumn.
– Do we need the Janssen vaccine if others have already been approved?
Not all people at the top of the priority list created by the JCVI have yet been vaccinated. More available doses mean vaccinators can continue to work their way through the list at increasing speed.
Although the vaccination programme appears to be on course to meet the Prime Minister’s target of getting the jab to 15 million people by mid-February, this is only provided vaccine supplies can be maintained.
– Which jab is best?
The three early vaccines all have high efficacy rates, but researchers say it is difficult to make direct comparisons because it is not yet known exactly what everyone is measuring in the trials.
The Janssen jab, was found to be 66% effective against preventing Covid-19, which suggests it does seem to protect against Covid-19, but not as well as some two-shot rivals.
– How do I get booked in for a vaccination?
People in England who are eligible for the vaccine will receive a letter from their GP surgery or the NHS nationally. It will include all the information needed to book their appointment.
Some people have reported receiving fraudulent text messages or phone calls in relation to the Covid-19 vaccine.
You will never be asked to pay for a vaccine and any contact asking for your bank details in relation to a vaccination appointment is a scam.
– Don’t vaccines take a long time to produce?
Traditionally, vaccine development includes various processes, including design and development stages followed by clinical trials – which in themselves need approval before they even begin.
But in the trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, which usually take years, have been condensed to months.
Pharmaceutical firms began manufacturing before final approval has been granted – taking on the risk that they may be forced to scrap their work.
– Will people get a choice about which vaccine they are given?
As things stand the vaccines will be rolled out as and when they become available. People are not able to choose which jab they want to receive.
– Can the vaccines be mixed?
Clinical trials mixing different types of vaccines are planned but there is no data as yet. Currently, you cannot mix doses of the vaccine.
– Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
The MHRA recommends women discuss Covid-19 vaccination with their doctor.