The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is the fourth coronavirus jab approved for use in the UK.
So how does it work?
The Johnson and Johnson (J&J) jab uses similar ‘viral vector’ technology to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine – harnessing a virus to act as a Trojan horse that sneaks some of the genetic blueprint for the coronavirus into a cell in the body.
The cell’s machinery will then produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein
The body’s immune system recognises it doesn’t belong there and triggers the immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
The vaccine, developed by the company’s pharmaceutical arm Janssen, has been shown to be 67% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, with some studies suggesting it also offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death.
How is it used?
The J&J vaccine only needs to be stored at fridge temperatures, making its storage, distribution and handling much easier.
The fact it only needs one dose, unlike the others which require two doses several weeks apart, could help to speed up vaccination rollouts.
How many doses has the UK ordered?
The Vaccine Taskforce had originally ordered 30 million doses, based on the predicted clinical need at the time, but such has been the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout, the government has decided to amend its original order to 20 million doses.
The first deliveries are expected to arrive in the country later this year now the jab has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
There have been reports that J&J expects to miss its delivery targets for the European Union this quarter.
What other vaccines does the UK have?
So far the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are being rolled out across the UK.
The approval of the J&J vaccine comes as it is thought that the most vulnerable groups of people, including the elderly, will be offered a booster jab before next winter.
The UK has also ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine which is waiting approval.
What about those blood clot concerns?
The MHRA is thought to have held back from early approval of the vaccine after concerns were raised in the US about a link to extremely rare blood clots.
The clots are similar to those seen in a very small proportion of people having the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
And in April, the use of the shot was suspended in the US while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated eight “serious” cases of rare blood clots associated with low blood platelets, among the seven million people who had been vaccinated with it.
One person died.
However, the vaccine’s rollout was resumed after a week – after concerns had been assuaged.
The European Medicines Agency has now also recommended a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the product information for the vaccine, but has said the overall benefits of it “outweigh the risks of side effects”.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice for the Janssen vaccine before doses become available.
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