Johnson & Johnson vaccine less effective against Delta variant: study

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Fox News 20 July, 2021 - 07:54pm 17 views

In-Depth: New study on Johnson & Johnson vaccine efficacy

ABC 10 News 20 July, 2021 - 11:01pm

Dr. Vin Gupta encourages J&J vaccine recipients to get a Pfizer or Moderna booster

CNBC 20 July, 2021 - 07:39pm

Intensive-care unit and lung doctor Dr. Vin Gupta told CNBC that he's already encouraging patients who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine to get a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot amid the dramatic increase in delta variant cases across the U.S. 

Gupta, a professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told "The News with Shepard Smith" that "AstraZeneca, when combined with a Pfizer or Moderna booster, is showing tremendous levels of protection against delta, in terms of the antibody levels that are generated in patients."

"I do think that those one-shot J&Jer's should be given the opportunity, while we complete our clinical trial ... I'm already telling my patients to do it, if they can get access to it." 

Gupta's comments come on the heels of a new study from a lab at New York University Tuesday that raises serious questions about the effectiveness of J&J's single-dose vaccine against the highly contagious delta variant. The NYU study is not yet peer reviewed, but found that the antibody levels in those who received the J&J shot may be low enough to be less protective.

CNBC correspondent Meg Tirrell interviewed the lead author of the study, Dr. Ned Landau, who told her that the study suggests, "one should at least consider a second vaccination, a second shot" with the J&J vaccine, either of the same vaccine, or one from Pfizer or Moderna.

J&J told CNBC that its own data showed the vaccine "generated strong, persistent activity against the delta variant and other highly prevalent variants." 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNBC that it stands by its statement earlier this month about boosters that "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster at this time." 

Gupta furthered the case for administering a booster shot when he told host Shepard Smith that his "definition of fully vaccinated is two doses of a vaccine."

Smith asked for clarification on whether Gupta considers the nearly 13 million Americans who received the J&J dose were actually fully vaccinated. 

"I think you're protected, likely from the hospital and severe outcomes from say, the delta variant, based on what data we do have," Gupta said. "I do not think you have the same level of protection to transmit the virus than somebody who received two doses of the vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna. I think that is pretty clear at this point."

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New study suggests Johnson & Johnson less effective against variants

The Hill 20 July, 2021 - 05:09pm

The results, published by bioRxiv but not yet peer reviewed or published in a journal, suggest that the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna could better protect against the delta and lambda strains than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The effectiveness of the vaccine in neutralizing the disease "significantly decreased" with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the study found.

Overall, the results found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 94-95 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, and Johnson & Johnson to be 66.9 percent effective.

Nathaniel Landau, a virologist at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine who led the study, told The New York Times the researchers don't wish to scare people off from getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but say it can be supplemented with another dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or with a different vaccine.

"The message that we wanted to give was not that people shouldn’t get the J&J vaccine, but we hope that in the future, it will be boosted with either another dose of J&J or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna," Landau said.

Another expert said he believes the efficacy of Johnson & Johnson would be increased if it was spread out over two doses — a theory he says was proven through various studies.

"I have always thought, and often said, that the J&J vaccine is a two-dose vaccine," John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told the Times.

The new study comes two weeks after Johnson & Johnson announced their vaccine was effective against the delta variant.

"We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the delta variant. This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine’s ability to protect against multiple variants of concern," Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said in a release

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J&J COVID-19 vaccine is 'LESS EFFECTIVE against Delta variant'

Daily Mail 20 July, 2021 - 03:59pm

By Mary Kekatos Acting U.S. Health Editor For Dailymail.Com

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is less effective against the Indian 'Delta' coronavirus variant than other shots, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that antibody levels from people who received the one-dose vaccine were twice as low compared to those given the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.  

The team says the findings add to the growing body of evidence that the 13 million Americans who received J&J will need boosters to protect against highly infectious variants.

It comes as Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee on Wednesday that the variant makes up 83 percent of all new cases and is responsible for the rise in infections in nearly all 50 states.

The study represents yet another setback for J&J's vaccine, which has plagued by pauses, ingredient mix-ups, federal health warnings and doses needing to be thrown out. 

Antibody levels among people who received Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine were low against the Indian 'Delta' coronavirus variant.  Pictured: Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccines are seen on a table in Los Angeles, mAY 2021

Researchers say the findings suggest the 13 million Americans who received the J&J vaccine will need boosters to protect against variants

It comes as the CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky revealed the Delta variant now makes up 83% of all new infections

'The message that we wanted to give was not that people shouldn't get the J.&J. vaccine, but we hope that in the future, it will be boosted with either another dose of J&J or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna,' lead author Dr Nathaniel Landau, a virologist at NYU's Grossman School of Medicine, told The New York Times

For the study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, researchers looked at blood samples from 27 patients.

Of the group, 17 people had been immunized with two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 10 people with one dose of the J&J vaccine.

Researchers found that antibody levels in J&J patients were five to seven times lower when exposed to the Delta variant.

Comparatively, levels in Pfizer and Moderna patients were three-fold lower.

The findings are in line with a UK study, which found that the AstraZeneca vaccine - which is made with the same technology that the J&J vaccine uses - is 33 percent effective against symptomatic disease caused by Delta. 

'The lower baseline means that what's left to counter Delta is very weak. That is a substantial concern, Dr John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told The Times.

Antibody levels in J&J patients (black) were five to seven times lower when exposed to the Delta variant compared to three times lower in Pfizer (yellow) and Modera (red) patients

In real-world studies, other vaccines have been shown to be more effective against the Delta variant.

A May analysis from Public Health England found two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 80 percent effective overall at preventing infection by the variant.

The vaccine was also 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization. 

There is no specific data released yet on the efficacy of the Moderna vaccine against the Delta variant.

However, a Canadian study found the first dose of the Moderna vaccine was 72 percent effective against infection from the Delta variant.

There are few studies about how effective the vaccines are at preventing death from the variant, but a recent study from India - where Delta originated - found that only 0.4 percent of people who were vaccinated died from the virus. 

Moore told The Times that J&J should start administering its vaccine as two doses.

He said several studies have suggested the J&J vaccine provides greater efficacy after two doses. 

'I have always thought, and often said, that the J&J vaccine is a two-dose vaccine,' he said.

Seema Kumar, a spokeswoman for J&J, told The Times that the data from the NYU study 'do not speak to the full nature of immune protection.'

She added that company-sponsored studies show its vaccine in its one-dose form 'generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading Delta variant.' 

The news comes just one week after it was revealed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is adding a new warning to the label of J&J's vaccine due to about 100 preliminary reports of the rare autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré following the one-dose vaccine 

In April, the J&J vaccine was paused by the CDC and FDA for 10 days after six women under the age of 50 developed Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST), a rare blood clot that forms in the venous sinuses in the brain.

The women developed CVST in combination with a low platelet-count condition known as thrombocytopenia. 

This figure was later updated to include 28 people, including one 45-year-old woman who died. 

The pause was lifted and the FDA added a warning to J&J's coronavirus vaccine that rare blood clotting events might occur, primarily among women under age 50.

The company then face production problems when workers at Emergent BioSolutions, a plant in Maryland, ruined millions of doses of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine with an ingredient intended for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

J&J was forced to throw out about 75 million doses of the vaccine worth $750 million, according to the contract it signed with the federal government pricing each dose at $10. 

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J.&J. Vaccine May Be Less Effective Against Delta, Study Suggests

The New York Times 20 July, 2021 - 03:23pm

Many who received the shot may need to consider boosters, the authors said. But federal health officials do not recommend second doses.

The coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson is much less effective against the Delta and Lambda variants than against the original virus, according to a new study posted online on Tuesday.

Although troubling, the findings result from experiments conducted with blood samples in a laboratory, and may not reflect the vaccine’s performance in the real world. But the conclusions add to evidence that the 13 million people inoculated with the J.&J. vaccine may need to receive a second dose — ideally of one of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, the authors said.

The conclusions are at odds with those from smaller studies published by Johnson & Johnson earlier this month suggesting that a single dose of the vaccine is effective against the variant even eight months after inoculation.

The new study has not yet been peer reviewed nor published in a scientific journal. But it is consistent with observations that a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine — which has a similar architecture to the J.&J. vaccine — shows only about 33 percent efficacy against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant.

“The message that we wanted to give was not that people shouldn’t get the J.&J. vaccine, but we hope that in the future, it will be boosted with either another dose of J.&J. or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna,” said Nathaniel Landau, a virologist at N.Y.U.’s Grossman School of Medicine, who led the study.

Other experts said the results are what they would have expected, because all of the vaccines seem to work better when given in two doses. “I have always thought, and often said, that the J.&J. vaccine is a two-dose vaccine,” said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Dr. Moore pointed to several studies in monkeys and people that have shown greater efficacy with two doses of the J.&J. vaccine, compared with one dose. He said the new study was particularly credible because it was published by a team with no ties to any of the vaccine manufacturers.

But the data from the new study “do not speak to the full nature of immune protection,” said Seema Kumar, a spokeswoman for J.&J. Studies sponsored by the company indicate that the vaccine “generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading Delta variant,” she said.

The Delta variant is the most contagious version yet of the coronavirus. It accounts for 83 percent of infections in the United States, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The variant may also be mainly responsible for a recent rise in infections: Although they are still low relative to last winter, cases are rising in all 50 states, and hospitalizations are increasing in nearly all of them. In the two weeks ending on Tuesday, the nation averaged 268 deaths per day.

Delta may cause more breakthrough infections than earlier forms of the virus, but more than 99 percent of the hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people. Rates of immunization in the country have stalled, with just under 60 percent of adults fully protected against the virus.

Several studies have suggested that the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will maintain their efficacy against the coronavirus, including all variants identified so far. One recent study showed, for example, that the vaccines trigger a persistent immune reaction in the body that may protect against the coronavirus for years.

But evidence on the J.&J. vaccine has been limited, because it was rolled out later than the mRNA vaccines. Most studies of effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines were conducted at medical centers and hospitals that relied on samples from staff members who received the mRNA vaccines.

The J.&J. vaccine has also been dogged by reports of blood clots and a rare neurological syndrome, as well as problems with contamination at a manufacturing plant in Baltimore.

Small studies published by researchers affiliated with J.&J. suggested that the vaccine was only slightly less effective against the Delta variant than against the original virus, and that antibodies stimulated by the vaccine grew in strength over eight months.

Dr. Landau’s team would probably have seen a similar increase in the vaccine’s potency if they had looked at the data over time, said Dr. Dan Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The data on the J.&J. vaccine’s strength against the Delta variant at Day 29 is not much different from those reported in his own study, Dr. Barouch said.

“Fundamentally I don’t see that there’s any discordance,” he said. “The question is that of kinetics, it’s not just magnitude, because immune responses are not static over time.” The new study also did not consider other components of immune defense, he added.

Dr. Landau and his colleagues looked at blood samples taken from 17 people who had been immunized with two doses of an mRNA vaccine and 10 people with one dose of the J.&J. vaccine.

The J.&J. vaccine started out with a lower efficacy than the mRNA vaccines and showed a bigger drop in efficacy against the Delta and Lambda variants. “The lower baseline means that what’s left to counter Delta is very weak,” Dr. Moore said. “That is a substantial concern.”

Very few vaccines are given as a single dose, because the second dose is needed to amp up antibody levels, noted Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University. People who were inoculated with the J.&J. vaccine “are relying on that primary response to maintain high levels of antibodies, which is difficult, especially against the variants,” she said.

Boosting immunity with a second dose should raise the antibody levels high enough to counter the variants, she said.

Turning to an mRNA vaccine for the second shot, rather than another J.&J. shot, may be better: Several studies have shown that combining one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines kicks up the immune response more effectively than two doses of AstraZeneca.

The Food and Drug Administration has said “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” and the agency is unlikely to change its recommendations based on laboratory studies. But the new data should prompt the F.D.A. to revisit its recommendations, Dr. Landau said: “I hope that they read our paper and think about it.”

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