People who get both Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and booster shot have high protection levels against the Omicron variant, a new study out of South Africa says.
The study released Thursday in pre-print has yet to be peer-reviewed but is promising news for those who received the one-dose vaccine six to nine months ago and who also get a booster from the company.
Protection against hospitalization jumped from 63 percent to 85 percent after a second J&J shot, according to the study conducted in November and December among 69,000 vaccinated health care workers.
“This data is important given the increased reliance on the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine in Africa,” the authors wrote, who conducted the research in 350 vaccination centers across all nine South African provinces. The study also says data reveals “the ability of Omicron to escape antibody neutralization after a single dose.”
“This adds to our growing body of evidence which shows that the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine remains strong and stable over time, including against circulating variants such as Omicron and Delta,” said Mathai Mammen, the global head of Janssen Research & Development, which Johnson & Johnson owns.
The company says it believes “that the protection could be due to the robust T-cell responses induced by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” adding Omicron does not appear to be “affecting the T-cell responses generated by our vaccine.”
The study conveniently began just before the onset of South Africa’s fourth wave brought on by Omicron, allowing them to capture the new variants effects.
“This data should reassure healthcare workers who have not taken their booster to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dr. Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director general of the South African National Department of Health, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson shot.
Nine people have died from the extremely rare blood clots caused by the vaccine, the CDC said, adding the Pfizer and Moderna also have been shown to be effective at protecting against the virus. The announcement was a departure from earlier guidance, which recommended Americans get any of the three shots.
The FDA approved J&J’s booster shot in October.