(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson said on Friday that its single-dose vaccine was 66% effective at stopping COVID-19 in a large global trial against several variants, giving health officials another weapon to combat the epidemic. found it.
In a trial of approximately 44,000 volunteers, the level of protection against moderate and severe COVID-19 differs from 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America, and just 57% in South Africa, from where a worrisome form has spread. has gone.
The data showed that the vaccine’s effect on the South African variant had not diminished, but that infectious disease and public health experts said it could still help prevent the spread of the virus and deaths.
The midstage trial data for Novaxax on Thursday also documented low effectiveness in South Africa.
Rival shots from Pfizer / BioNotech and Modern, when given at both doses, were about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in pivotal trials.
Those tests were conducted primarily in the United States and prior to the emergence of new variants. These mean that the world is racing against time and with limited supplies, more and more people have to be vaccinated as quickly as possible to prevent the virus.
COVID-19 is growing in 37 countries and the infection has crossed 101 million globally.
Top US infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci said the world needs to be vaccinated quickly to try to get ahead of these changes in the virus.
“It’s really a wake up call for us to be agile and be able to adjust as this virus will definitely continue to develop,” Fauci said.
J & J’s main goal was the prevention of moderate to severe COVID-19, and the vaccine was effective against 85% of severe disease and prevented hospitalizations in all geographic areas and against multiple variants 28 days after vaccination.
“Would potentially protect hundreds of millions of people from the severe and fatal consequences of COVID-19,” said Paul Stoffels, J & J’s chief scientific officer.
J & J’s shares were down 4% at $ 162.7 at 1700 GMT, with some Wall Street analysts saying its vaccine effectiveness was lower than rivals. Modern’s stock rose 8% to $ 172.80.
J&J plans to take the Emergency Use Authority from the US Food and Drug Administration next week and will soon follow up with the European Union and the rest of the world.
It said it plans to deliver 1 billion doses of the vaccine in the United States, Europe, South Africa and India in 2021.
Public health officials are counting on it to increase the much-needed supply in the United States and make vaccination easier, with a deal to buy 100 million doses of J&K vaccine and an additional 200 million.
J&J said the vaccine would be ready soon after emergency approval, but Stoffels refused to say how many doses.
“The key is not only overall efficacy, but efficacy against critical illness, hospitalization, and death,” said Walid Gaylead, a health policy associate at the University of Pittsburgh.
J & J’s vaccine uses a common cold virus to mix the colonovir protein into cells and trigger an immune response, while Pfizer / BioNotech and Modern Vaccines employ a new technology called messenger RNA.
Unlike these vaccines, J&J does not require a second shot week after the first shot or to keep it frozen, making it a strong candidate for use in parts of the world where transportation And present cold storage problems.
“Most countries are still desperate to get their hands on the dose, regardless of whether the vaccine is considered highly effective. Michael Brin, director of infectious diseases and ophthalmology at research firm GlobalData, said” will be moderately effective for now. “
Several studies have shown in this month that a South African variant has mutated in regions of the virus that are the major targets of vaccines, reducing their efficacy.
“What we’re learning has different efficacy in different parts of the world,” Stoffels told Reuters.
In a sub-study of 6,000 volunteers in South Africa, Stoffels said, the J&J vaccine was 89% effective in preventing serious illness. In the South African portion of the trial, 95% of cases had infection with the South African version.
“I am overwhelmed by the fact that this vaccine is safe from serious disease in South Africa as well,” said Glenda Gray, joint principal investigator for South African vaccine testing.
In the Jammu and Kashmir trial, which was conducted in eight countries, 44% of the participants were from the United States, 41% from Central and South America, and 15% from South Africa. Just over a third of the volunteers were over 60.
Reporting by Julie Steinhuysen; Additional reporting by Manas Mishra, Dania Nadeem and Manojna Madipatla in Bangaru, Rebecca Spelding and Michael Erman in New York and Promit Mukherjee in Johannesburg; Writing by Alexander Smith; Editing by Peter Henderson, Edwina Gibbs, Keith Wear and Caroline Humer