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A Groundbreaking Single-Shot Covid Vaccine Is Proven To Be Effective In Trials

A new vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson has bee shown to be effective in trials (PA)

5 min read

Results of a clinical trial show a groundbreaking single dose version of the Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is 66% effective.

The breakthough comes as the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved the European Medicines Agency for all adults over 18, despite concern from German authorities that it may not be effective in over 65s.

Both represent a major boost for Covid-19 vaccination in Europe, with more than 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ordered for the UK. 

The single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is also believed to be more useful in preventing severe problems from the disease.

The firm said the jab, developed by its pharmaceutical arm Janssen, “demonstrated complete protection against Covid-19-related hospitalisation and death as of day 28".

"This is yet more good news from Janssen on vaccines. If this jab is approved this could significantly bolster our vaccination programme, especially as a single-dose vaccine," health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted in response to the news. 

"Once the full data has been submitted to the @MHRAgovuk, they will consider the evidence to determine whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness & quality.

"We're rolling-out vaccines as quickly as possible across the UK, with more than 7.4 million people given their first dose so far."

Johnson & Johnson said their version was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe cases of Covid-19, and 85% effective in preventing severe disease.

It was also found to have worked across multiple variants of coronavirus, including the South African variant.

But its major advantage is that it can be given as a single dose, which means it can be rolled out across populations much more quickly than those which require two doses to be fully effective.

And unlike the jabs developed by Pfizer and Moderna it does not require specialist ultra-low freezers to keep it cold, and can be kept at fridge temperature for at least three months.

The UK has ordered 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson version with the option to purchase millions more.

It is the latest positive piece of vaccine-related news, after the Novavax vaccine for coronavirus was shown last night to be 89.3% effective following large-scale trials in the UK.

But it comes amid a deepening row with the EU over supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca version of the vaccine.

The European Commission reiterated its position today that UK manufacturing plants should be used to help supply doses to the continent and make up for a shortfall after problems at a factory in Belgium.

Meanwhile they have also placed an export ban on vaccines produced in the EU, which could impact on the UK’s supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told a Brussels press conference: "Today the commission has adopted an implementing regulation making the export of certain products subject to an export authorisation.

"This regulation concerns the transparency and export of Covid-19 vaccines."

Asked if the UK government remained confident in its vaccine supply, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said this lunchtime: "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals.

"EU policy is a matter for them but I would point back to what I've said and what the Prime Minister has said about the confidence we have in our supply chains and the fact we remain committed to vaccinating the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, the rest of phase one by the spring and offer a dose to all adults by September.”

This morning the growing war of words between the EU and AstraZeneca led to a redacted version of the contract between the bloc and the pharmcuetical giant being published.

Eric Mamer, chief spokesmen for the European Commission, said: "We have always said that indeed there are a number of plants which are mentioned in the contract that we have with AstraZeneca, some of which are located in the UK, and it is foreseen that these plants will contribute to the effort of AstraZeneca to deliver doses to the European Union.

"There is absolutely no question for us that this is what the contract specifies."

The AstraZeneca version has been in use in the UK for several weeks but only received approval by the European Medicines Agency this afternoon.

Emer Cooke, its executive director, said: “With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and EEA member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens.

“As in previous cases, the CHMP has rigorously evaluated this vaccine, and the scientific basis of our work underpins our firm commitment to safeguard the health of EU citizens.”

The EMA approved it for everyone aged 18 and above, despite German authorities suggesting earlier this week it should not be given to the over-65s as there is “insufficient data currently available".

Boris Johnson and Public Health England rejected those claims, with the Prime Minister saying: “I think that the MHRA, our own authorities, have made it very clear that they think the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is very good and efficacious.

"Gives a high degree of protection after just one dose, and even more after two doses, and the evidence that they've supplied is that they think that it is effective across all age groups. 

“It provides them a good immune response across all age groups, so I don't agree with that.”

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