COVID-19 vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson said a booster shot would significantly extend the window of protection from the coronavirus, according to partial trial data released Tuesday.
In a statement Tuesday, J&J chief scientific officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said while its single-dose vaccine remains strongly effective for up to eight months, a booster “further increases protection against COVID-19 and is expected to extend the duration of protection significantly.”
Dr. Stoffels referred to Phase 3 U.S. trial data of the company’s booster shot, which shows it is 94% effective when given two months after the first dose—and boosts antibody levels too.
Levels in people who got a booster two months after the first dose rose four to six times compared to after just one shot—surging 12-fold in people who got the booster after six months, regardless of age.
“The boost in immunity that we're seeing with this booster shot with Johnson & Johnson appears to be comparable to what we're seeing with the other vaccines,” said Sharp Healthcare otolaryngologist Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe.
J&J said the booster is 100% effective in protecting against severe and critical disease, adding that side effects of the booster are generally the same as the initial dose.
“This is excellent news,” said Dr. Schalch Lepe. “A lot of people did get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
According to the CDC, 14.8 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis is one of them.
“I'm very excited about a booster…when and where can I sign up for that second dose?” she said. “Why not? This gives us more protection and I want to protect myself and my family as much as I can.”
But if J&J’s convenient “one and done” dosing isn’t the case for much longer, Dr. Schalch Lepe said logistical problems accessing a booster may be unavoidable for the homeless and people in harder-to-reach communities, a large percentage of whom were given the Johnson & Johnson shot because it’s convenient and easier to store than other vaccines.
“It's difficult to get people back in,” he said. “Of course, records are kept, but ultimately it's up to the individual to come back and follow through with this booster. It's definitely a challenge.”
Mayor Sotelo-Solis told NBC 7 she hopes more public knowledge of booster updates will help more people get them when the time comes.
“I think at the end of the day, a second shot from Johnson & Johnson will be well received,” she said.
The full results of the company’s Phase 3 trial haven’t been published or vetted by other scientists yet.
Johnson & Johnson said it will submit all of its trial data to the FDA for potential recommendation of a booster and approval of a two-dose regimen.