New Brunswick drugmaker Johnson & Johnson said a booster for it’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine offers a much stronger immune response for patients months after receiving their first dose.
J&J, in its Tuesday announcement, said there was a “four-fold increase” in COVID-19 immunity by those patients who took the shot two months after the first dose, and a “12-fold increase” for those getting the shot six months later.
Tests done globally showed a 75% protection against COVID-19 symptoms, while nationwide tests showed a 94% protection, according to a J&J statement. Side effects from the booster shot are widely consistent with what’s been reported from the initial shot, J&J said.
The news comes as the nation – and the state – gauges how to roll out public health infrastructure for Pfizer booster shots, which would come as a third dose six months after the second jab in the two-shot course. As many as to 1.1 million New Jerseyans could be eligible for a booster shot, but state health officials said they’re not certain whether all health care workers and other medically high-risk patients would qualify.
An advisory committee within the federal Centers for Disease Control is meeting tomorrow to discuss the Pfizer booster and then opt to approve or reject it.
Roughly 14.8 million Americans have gotten the J&J vaccine, of which 439,714 are from New Jersey, according to the state Health Department.
By itself, the single shot of the J&J dose is strong enough to protect against serious COVID-19 infection.
But, the booster “increases protection against COVID-19 and is expected to extend the duration of protection significantly,” reads a statement from Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer.
Prior J&J data showed that the shot offered adequate protection at least 8 months after immunization.
The concept of a booster shot arose over the summer as the delta variant began to spread across the nation, mostly among the unvaccinated segments of the population. Meanwhile, public health officials warned that immunity from the vaccine could potentially fade overtime, hence the desire for a booster shot.
President Joe Biden hoped to roll out booster shots this month for the general population, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nipped those plans, instead opting to endorse the Pfizer booster shot for those with serious medical conditions, and those above the age of 65.
The J&J shot was widely seen as a ticket out of the COVID-19 pandemic because it only requires a single jab. But production issues and other logistical headaches dashed those hopes over the spring.l