THE FIRST single dose vaccine to fight coronavirus could be approved in weeks after it was found to be “safe and effective”.
Early trial data for the Johnson & Johnson jab shows 100 per cent of participants developed antibodies to fight off the virus just one month after having the vaccine.
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There are two vaccines that are currently being rolled out in the UK, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab – both of which are given in two doses.
The UK has so far secured 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson jab.
Data published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows that the jab could be up to 80 per cent effective against Covid.
The study was comprised of 805 volunteers aged between 18 and 55-years-old as well as people aged 65 or over.
It showed that 90 per cent of people developed protective antibodies 29 days after receiving just one dose.
By day 57, this increased to 100 per cent.
While the study is ongoing, experts at Johnson & Johnson say the protection has so far lasted 71 days.
The study also found if two doses were given 56 days apart – then the booster doubled the level in neutralising antibodies against the virus.
The firm’s chief scientist, Dr Paul Stoffels said they are aiming for an efficacy target of 60 per cent but that “internally they have been shooting for 70 to 80 per cent”.
He added that the firm wanted to reach for the highest levels – close to that of Pfizer and Moderna.
The Pfizer jab is 95 per cent effective 28 days after the first dose and the Moderna jab is 94.1 per cent effective.
Side effects of the Johnson & Johnson jab are similar to others such as the Pfizer and Oxford jab and patients reported fever, muscle aches and injection site pain.
The experts said that all the symptoms were “tolerable and resolved quickly”.
The data, Stoffels said, combined with monkey studies published in the summer shows strong protection against disease and transmission in one dose.
Speaking to Reuters he said: “The likelihood that we can now translate this into humans in our Phase III study hopefully is very high,” he said, adding, “We’ll see in a few weeks.”
Many over-80s across the UK have now had the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The gap between the first and second dose had initially been three weeks but the government stretched this to 12 weeks in order to give more people the initial dose.
The experts say this is one of the main advantages of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – the fact that just one dose is needed.
The firm says it’s on track to roll out the vaccine in March.
When it is released in the UK will depend on the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The firm said it should be able to develop 60 million doses by April.
The news from Johnson & Johnson comes after it was revealed that the UK could be vaccinating three million people a week by February.
Boris Johnson last night vowed to make vaccines available 24/7 in a push to get another 10 million people vaccinated by mid-February.
Three million vaccines have now been given out, fresh figures revealed today.
A Government source told The Sun: “We’re in a good place and have enough to meet out pledge, with supply continuously improving.
“We are already vaccinating more than 200,000 a day and are nowhere near capacity.
“If things go smoothly we could well be doing 400,000 a day — three million a week — by the start of February.”