Johnson & Johnson vaccine: One dose is enough
Photo: Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images
The European Medicines Agency Ema has recommended the Covid-19 vaccine Ad26.COV2.S from Johnson & Johnson for approval.
After the funds from Biontech / Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, it will probably be the fourth vaccine against the disease to be approved in the European Union (EU).
The final decision on this lies with the EU Commission, but its approval is a matter of form.
According to data from large Phase III studies, the product lowers the risk of developing Covid-19 by an average of 66 percent - i.e. by almost two thirds.
Protection already exists after one vaccination dose - the vaccines that have been approved up to now are administered in two doses.
In other words, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only takes half as many injections to vaccinate the same number of people.
The vaccination is faster.
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Similar to AstraZeneca's, the drug is a vector vaccine.
These can be stored at refrigerator temperatures and are therefore very easy to use.
The mRNA vaccines from Biontech / Pfizer and Biontech, on the other hand, have so far only persisted in the long term at low temperatures.
At the end of February, the US authorities had already granted emergency approval for the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
Effectiveness between 57 and 72 percent
Johnson & Johnson applied for approval in the EU on February 16.
It is based on data from several large studies in eight countries around the world.
Johnson & Johnson vaccinated almost 44,000 test persons over the age of 18 either with the active ingredient or with an ineffective placebo.
After a total of 468 cases of Covid-19 in the study population, those responsible compared the two groups.
According to a press release, the number of people vaccinated with the active ingredient was on average around two thirds lower than in the comparison group.
The vaccine had worked.
However, there were a few differences in detail between the different countries in which the studies took place: In the USA, vaccination reduced the risk of Covid 19 disease by as much as 72 percent 28 days after the injection, in Latin America it was 66 percent and in South Africa 57 percent.
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An obvious explanation is the mutant of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which first appeared in South Africa and is apparently able to bypass the body's immune protection to a certain extent.
How effective the Johnson & Johnson vaccination is against this virus line alone cannot yet be said.
The products from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna had reduced the risk of developing Covid-19 in large phase III studies by around 95 percent after two vaccine doses, the effectiveness of the agent from AstraZeneca was around 60 percent.
However, all vaccines protect against serious disease progression with almost absolute certainty.
Good protection against severe gradients
Across all regions, the risk of developing serious Covid-19 was 85 percent lower in those vaccinated with the active ingredient from Johnson & Johnson 28 days after the injection than in the placebo group.
From day 50 after vaccination, not a single severe Covid-19 case occurred among those vaccinated, according to Johnson & Johnson.
Vector vaccines are based on viruses that are harmless to humans.
The blueprint of a virus protein from Sars-CoV-2 is integrated into their genome.
The vector viruses transport this blueprint into human cells, which then produce the virus protein.
The immune system reacts to this and forms antibodies.
The reason that a dose of Johnson & Johnson's product is sufficient for vaccine protection is that the company has tested its product accordingly and achieved good efficacy.
The other manufacturers, on the other hand, examined a two-dose approach from the outset.
How effective these preparations are after just one dose is still unclear.
It is also unclear how long the protection lasts for all vaccines.
The EU Commission has pre-ordered 200 million doses of the product for the second quarter of 2021, 55 of which are to be delivered by the end of June.
Germany expects 10.1 million cans by then, 22 million in the third quarter and 4.6 million in the fourth.
A total of 36.7 million people in Germany could be vaccinated with the drug by the end of the year, but difficulties arose even before the recommendation by the Ema.
On Wednesday, the health expert of the European CDU, Peter Liese, said that Johnson & Johnson had not yet confirmed that they would be able to deliver vaccine doses immediately after approval in the EU.
"There are even doubts that the promised delivery quantity of 55 million cans can be met by the end of June," says Liese.
The EU does not expect the first deliveries until mid-April.
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