J&J (JNJ) COVID Booster Jab Shows Its Effectiveness Against Omicron
Johnson & johnson JNJ announced preliminary data from the phase IIIb Sisonke 2 study, which evaluated the booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S) among healthcare workers in South Africa who received the The company’s main vaccine schedule for COVID-19.
During the study period, that is, from mid-November to mid-December, J&J noted that the frequency of the Omicron variant increased from 82% to 98% in South Africa.
The Sisonke 2 study (n = 227,310) demonstrated that homologous booster injection reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 among healthcare workers in South Africa after Omicron became the dominant variant. In fact, the booster dose increased the vaccine’s effectiveness over time to 85% against hospitalization.
Please note that the homologous booster was administered six to nine months after the primary regimen of the J&J COVID vaccine.
J&J also reported data from a separate analysis of the immune response to different vaccine regimens. The analysis evaluated the administration of a heterologous booster dose of the J&J booster dose versus a homologous booster dose in individuals who initially received the main regimen in two doses of J&J. Pfizer PFE and BioNTechBNTX mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2.
Neutralizing antibodies and CD8 + T cells were higher after a booster dose of J & J’s vaccine. A heterologous booster injection of J & J’s COVID vaccine generated a 41-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies four weeks after the boost against the Omicron variant, while the homologous booster injection of BNT162b2 generated a 17-fold increase.
J & J’s heterologous COVID vaccine booster also generated a five-fold increase in CD8 + T cells in two weeks after the Omicron booster dose compared to a 1.4-fold increase generated by Pfizer / BioNTech’s homologous BNT162b2 booster .
According to J&J, CD8 + T cells generated from its COVID vaccine may be the reason for the high level of efficacy against hospitalization in the Sisonke 2 study, since the Omicron variant showed the ability to evade neutralizing antibodies.
J&J shares are up 9.5% so far this year compared to the industry’s 21.8% increase.
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We note that BNT162b2 is marketed in the United States under the trade name Comirnaty. Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced data from a pseudovirus neutralization test, which demonstrated that three doses of Comirnaty neutralize the Omicron variant.
Pfizer / BioNTech stated that administration of the third dose of Comirnaty provided a level of protection against the Omicron variant that was comparable to the level achieved against the wild-type virus after the initial two-dose regimen. If a specific Omicron booster is needed, the two companies plan to deliver one by March 2021.
In addition to the boosters developed by J&J and Pfizer / BioNTech, Modern MRNA is also evaluating its own COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, mRNA-1273, against the Omicron variant.
Moderna is also evaluating its multivalent booster and Omicron-specific booster candidates in phase II / III studies. Earlier this month, Moderna announced preliminary data from a pseudovirus neutralization titer assay study, which demonstrated that its COVID-19 vaccine booster significantly increased neutralizing antibody levels against the Omicron variant.
Moderna continues to develop an Omicron-specific booster candidate in case it becomes necessary in the future amid the growing infection cases from Omicron. The Omicron-specific booster candidate will enter a clinical study in early 2022.
Earlier this month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommended the use of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines – Comirnaty and mRNA-1273 – or their booster dose compared to J & J’s single injection COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC has said that J & J’s vaccine or its booster dose should only be used when mRNA-based vaccines are contraindicated for a person or are inaccessible.
Following the recommendation, J&J defended his COVID vaccine by stating that he remains confident in the vaccine’s overall positive benefit-risk profile. The company believes that its single dose administration, along with its ease of storage and transport, makes the vaccine a better option.
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