A new Covid vaccine requiring just one dose could be just weeks away from being introduced in the UK.
A Government source said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) formal process of approving the new jab was “very likely” to start this week, according to a report in the Telegraph.
The news came as the Food and Drug Administration in the USA cleared the new one-shot vaccine for use over there.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospital admissions and death.
One dose was 85 per cent protective against the most severe Covid-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents – protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
“The more vaccines that have high efficacy that we can get into play, the better,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said.
President Joe Biden said the “exciting news for all Americans” was an “encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis”.
“But I want to be clear: this fight is far from over,” he added, encouraging people to stick with masks and other public health measures.
Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the US, and 100 million by summer.
J&J is confirmed to be seeking authorisation for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organisation.
There are clear advantages aside from the convenience of one shot.
Local health officials are looking to use the J&J option in mobile vaccination clinics, homeless shelters, even with sailors who are spending months on fishing vessels. It is suited to communities where it is hard to be sure someone will come back in three to four weeks for a second vaccination.
The J&J vaccine also is easier to handle, lasting three months in the refrigerator compared to the Pfizer and Moderna options, which must be frozen.
Worldwide, the company aims to produce about one billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use.
In January, Johnson & Johnson, which owns the pharmaceutical firm Janssen, had announced clinical data from its Phase 3 study into a Covid-19 vaccine.
Reputable scientific, health and faith organisations have produced lists of frequently asked questions about the vaccine rollout, designed to help answer queries from anyone worried about the vaccine or anxious about its effects.
Please take the time to read reliable information from trusted sources when making health decisions for you and your families.
Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG): Visit their website dedicated to the vaccine campaign here. It includes comprehensive information in a range of languages.
Black Country and West Birmingham CCG: Visit their website here
British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA): They have addressed a series of common questions and myths in easily shared graphics, Visit their website here.
If you want to book a vaccine appointment, visit the NHS vaccines website here.
Responding to the news about the successful trial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted at the time: “This is yet more good news from Janssen on vaccines. If this jab is approved this could significantly bolster our vaccination programme, especially as a single-dose vaccine.
“Once the full data has been submitted to the (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), they will consider the evidence to determine whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness & quality.”
Johnson & Johnson said the jab was 85 per cent effective in preventing severe disease “and demonstrated complete protection against Covid-19 related hospitalisation and death as of day 28”.
The vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 but offers high protection against people needing to go to hospital.
It can be stored at normal fridge temperatures of 2C to 8C.
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