J&J Touts Real-World Vaccine Data; U.S. Likely to Miss WHO Vaccination Target

COVID news

As the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus sweeps the world, researchers rush to determine how effective the current vaccines are at creating immunity against the variant. Although some of the results appear mixed, the overall data suggest the vaccines are very effective against hospitalization and death. For that and more, continue reading.

J&J Vaccine Provides Durable Protection Against Breakthrough Infections

Johnson & Johnson noted that a new study published on medRxiv demonstrated that its COVID-19 vaccine “demonstrates durable protection against breakthrough infection, hospitalization, and intensive care unit admission in the United States.” The data suggests that the one-shot vaccine was effective about 80%, and that level of protection was consistent across the six-month stretch of the study. The study evaluated the durability profiles of the J&J, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. In addition, a study announced last week conducted in South Africa found that a booster dose of the J&J vaccine was 85% effective against hospitalization from the Omicron variant.

Booster of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines Needed Against Omicron

A study by the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard found that traditional two-shot doses of the two mRNA vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna do not create antibodies that can recognize and neutralize the Omicron variant. The data was published in the journal Cell.

The study used a pseudovirus of the Omicron variant to test the effectiveness of the three U.S. vaccines available, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J. They acquired blood samples from 239 people who had been fully vaccinated with one of the three vaccines. There were 70 men and women who had received a third booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot or Moderna. The blood samples were then tested on how effectively each vaccine produced protective immunity via antibodies against the Omicron pseudovirus, as well as the Delta and original Wuhan strains.

Alejandro Balasz, with Ragon, said, “We detected very little neutralization of the Omicron variant pseudovirus when we used samples taken from people who were recently vaccinated with two doses of mRNA vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. But individuals who received three doses of mRNA vaccine had very significant neutralization against the Omicron variant.”

Doubtful that At-Home Rapid Antigen Tests Detect Omicron Before It Can Be Transmitted to Others

study of 30 people from Broadway theaters and offices in New York and San Francisco found that at-home rapid antigen tests were probably not sensitive enough to detect virus levels of Omicron early on. The study found that all of the antigen tests showed false-negative results on days 0 and 1 after a positive PCR test. Unfortunately, in 28 of the 30 cases, viral levels detected via PCR were high enough to infect other people. And they confirmed that four of the infected individuals transmitted the virus to others before they showed a positive result on a rapid antigen test. They think it is probable that there were more than four transmissions as well.

“I think that with every new variant that comes, scientists have to question whether the things that were previously true are still true,” said Blythe Adamson, lead author of the study and principal epidemiologist at Infectious Economics in New York. “This one has a different way it travels, a different mechanism of action of symptoms, it has different windows of transmission.”

Moderna’s Bancel: 4th Vaccine Might be Needed in the Fall

Stephane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, believes that people might need a second booster dose in the fall, mainly if they are front-line workers and older than 50. Speaking at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, Bancel indicated he thought people who received booster shots in the fall of 2021 should have significant protection through the winter, but he expected their efficacy to drop by fall of 2022. “I will be surprised when we get that data in the coming week that it’s holding nicely over time — I would expect that it’s not going to hold great.”

CDC: Severe Disease and Death from COVID-19 Rare in Fully Vaccinated Adults

study published today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who had completed their primary vaccination series against COVID-19 from December 2020 to October 2021 were at very low risk of ICU admissions or death from COVID-19. Of 1.2 million adults, only 0.015% were admitted to the ICU with COVID-19, and 0.0033% died from the disease. Risk for severe disease was more likely for the fully vaccinated over the age of 65, or people who were immunosuppressed or had specific underlying health conditions.

What Countries Are Missing WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccination Target?

In October 2021, the World Health Organization set a target for countries to vaccinate 70% of their populations by the middle of 2022. Projections made by Our World in Data this week found than more than 100 countries will likely miss that target, including the U.S. Countries that already have 70% fully vaccinated include Canada, Australia, Japan, Portugal and Qatar, and about 45 others. Countries that haven’t hit the 70% mark yet but are on track to hit the target include Saudi Arabia, Russia and Hong Kong. Other countries expected to miss include Estonia, Jamaica and Nigeria.

Back to news