Investigators of the Sisonke study that monitors the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in South African healthcare workers say the vaccine can stand up to the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The team has presented the world’s first evidence on the vaccines’ efficacy against the variant. Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre and health foundation Professor Linda-Gail Bekker says J&J held its ground against the Beta and Delta variants, and the question was whether there was a drop-off ineffectiveness against the Omicron variant.
“It was important to have a look, and we have done so with the two doses that the doctors and nurses and other health care workers have now received. And important to reassure that cohort that we saw a maintained vaccine effectiveness, even against Omicron. We felt it was very important to reassure the individuals who had come for boosts, and so that study was done.”
VIDEO: J&J jab found to be effective against the Omicron COVID-19 variant
‘Go and get vaccinated’
The Department of Health has reminded the public that booster COVID-19 vaccines are available. People who received the second dose of their Pfizer jab at least six months ago can now get their booster shot.
Johnson and Johnson’s booster vaccines are available to those who received their first J&J shot at least two months ago.
Many countries are expanding COVID-19 vaccine booster programmes to shore up protection against the Omicron variant.
“It is very good and exciting news and we encourage people who have had the single-dose J&J to go and get vaccinated. We have real-world evidence from SA that this vaccine protects and is very durable. There are other data that we are looking at in the lab that shows great protection against Delta and Omicron – so lovely cross-protection to other variants so it is very important to get your vaccination,” says Professor Glenda Gray – the CEO of the South African Medical Research Council.