He was equipped with all the trumps.
Single dose, easy to keep and therefore accessible in pharmacies and medical offices, without major adverse effects ... Less than two months after its arrival in France, the Janssen vaccine is however far from the success announced.
Some do not hesitate to speak of "flop".
Only 440,000 people have received it in the arm since April 23, while 1.8 million doses have been delivered to France, according to data available in open data.
The utilization rate is therefore very low, less than 25%.
"Janssen has not found its audience, it's a shame," admitted the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.
Like AstraZeneca, the Janssen vaccine is based on the principle of an adenovirus.
And like “AZ”, which Jean Castex had qualified as “cursed”, it is only reserved for 55 years and over because of the (very rare) risk of atypical thrombosis.
“Janssen has been too associated with AstraZeneca, it has become very difficult to offer adenovirus today.
Everyone wants messenger RNA
(Editor's note: Pfizer or Moderna)
», Thunders Delphine Chadoutaud, pharmacist in Orsay.
"The demand is less and less strong"
Today, around 5 million French people aged at least 55 have not yet been vaccinated.
Either a reservoir a priori important but hard to convince, especially since AstraZeneca does not already find favor in their eyes.
"The demand is less and less strong, we vaccinated all the volunteers," notes Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France.
"The big problem is that Janssen was ideal for young people because we suspected that it would be complicated to give them two injections during the holidays", he adds between two injections.
This advantage of requiring only one injection may not last forever.
In recent weeks, Alain Fischer has indicated on several occasions, for example in mid-May in La Dépêche, that two doses would perhaps be "necessary".
“The question, as always, is:
If we do a single dose, what will be the duration of protection?
“, Wondered in mid-February the president of the Council of orientation of the vaccine strategy, on BFMTV.
A question all the more significant with the emergence of variants that entail a risk of reinfection.
Alain Fischer: "The next vaccine is Janssen, we hope that it will be available at the beginning of April".
Pr Fischer answers all your questions about BFMTV ⤵ pic.twitter.com/jgphZFgOWk
- BFMTV (@BFMTV) February 15, 2021
So, to hope to sell the stocks of Janssen vaccines, "we use it in the strategy
of going to
, to vaccinate at home people who cannot travel", describes Philippe Besset.
Associations responsible for vaccinating migrants and the homeless, such as Médecins sans frontières (MSF), also intend to use it.
The problem is that "people on the street are often under 55 years old", nuance Corinne Torre, head of the MSF France mission.
At present, Janssen is given to 10,000 people every day, or 3% of the total number of daily primary vaccinations.
Should we go further and administer it to people under 55?
In the field, several doctors and pharmacists want it.
But "at this stage", the High Authority of Health (HAS) does not see "sufficient elements" to change its recommendations.
In mid-May, however, she promised to re-examine the situation "in the light of the data which will soon be available".
Fewer deliveries than expected in June
There is also the question of the effectiveness of the Janssen vaccine against the Delta variant, which could become dominant in France in the coming months.
If the data for Pfizer are rather reassuring, provided that two doses are administered, it is difficult to comment on Janssen.
“A lot of young people would like it, but what if we vaccinate them when it's less effective against the new variants?
», Asks general practitioner Jérôme Marty.
Read also Covid-19: how 100,000 people under the age of 55 received AstraZeneca despite the recommendations
Even though the public would be there, deliveries by the end of June will be much less numerous than expected. 7 million Janssen doses were expected in total but this number was reduced to 2.7 million on June 1, due to a non-compliance problem at an American plant of the firm Emergent. On Friday, the European Medicines Agency also recommended not to use batches of vaccines whose active ingredient was manufactured concomitantly.