WHO Supports Use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine as a Booster

10 December 2021 | Friday | News

Growing body of evidence supports use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as both a mix-and-match and homologous booster, following primary vaccination regimen
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) (the Company) today announced the interim recommendation by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) for the World Health Organization (WHO) supporting the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as a booster shot in persons aged 18 years and above. The WHO recommend the booster shot should be administered two to six months after the primary vaccination. SAGE advises WHO on global vaccine and immunization policies, and its recommendations provide guidance on the use of vaccines supplied through the COVAX Facility, a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to all participating countries.

SAGE recommended that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can be used for homologous (same vaccine) boosting, using the Company's vaccine for both primary vaccination and the booster shot. The WHO supports a flexible approach to heterologous (mix-and-match) boosting, using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for eligible individuals aged 18 years and older who received an authorized COVID-19 vaccine primary regimen.

"Today's recommendation from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization for the World Health Organization is further affirmation that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can help reduce the burden of the pandemic," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. "Our COVID-19 vaccine continues to play a critical role in the world's fight to end this pandemic, and we welcome this recommendation as we work with the global community to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19."

The interim SAGE recommendation was based on efficacy, safety and immunogenicity data from the Company's clinical trials and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority-sponsored Sisonke Phase 3b study in South Africa. When administered as a booster dose, following primary vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, it provided increased protection against symptomatic infection and severe disease, and was generally well-tolerated.

Earlier this year SAGE recommended the use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine based on evidence from the Company's Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study, which demonstrated efficacy against severe disease, and showed strong protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death, beginning 28 days after vaccination. These data were consistent with a large real-world evidence study conducted in the U.S., which showed stable vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19-related infections and hospitalizations, with no evidence of reduced effectiveness over the study duration of six months – including when the Delta variant became dominant in the U.S. (sequencing data were not available for analysis). 

Johnson & Johnson is delivering on its commitment to make available up to 900 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union (via the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust) and COVAX, combined, through 2022.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is compatible with standard vaccine storage and distribution channels with ease of delivery to remote areas. The vaccine is estimated to remain stable for two years at -4°F (-20°C), and a maximum of six months at routine refrigeration temperatures of 36° to 46°F (2° to 8°C). The COVID-19 vaccine should not be re-frozen if distributed at temperatures of 36°F to 46°F (2°-8°C).

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, also referred to as the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, received initial Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States on February 27, 2021, and an EUA as a booster shot on October 20. It also received Conditional Marketing Authorisation by the European Commission on March 11. The WHO issued Emergency Use Listing on March 12, and the Company received an interim recommendation on primary vaccination by SAGE on March 17. On November 24, Health Canada approved the Company's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. Many more authorizations and approvals have been granted in countries worldwide, including 50 countries in Africa, with further regulatory submissions ongoing.

Johnson & Johnson continues to submit relevant data to other regulators, the WHO and National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) worldwide to inform decision-making on local vaccine administration strategies, as needed.

In collaboration with academic groups in South Africa and around the world, the Company is also evaluating the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine across variants, now including the new and rapidly spreading Omicron variant. In addition, the Company is pursuing an Omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed.


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