Are Johnson & Johnson down enough for the Delta variant? – Monterey Herald

Sara Jenez was grateful to have picked up the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson in April, but amid disturbing reports of aggressively spreading viral variants, she is considering receiving one of the other vaccines for additional protection.

Like many who have received J & J’s single-shot vaccine, she is frustrated by the lack of clarity on its effectiveness and conflicting advice from health experts on what to do about it, fueling a vigorous debate. on social networks. Reports on how vaccines protect us against a variety of variants spreading in the United States focus on the most widely used vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, or AstraZeneca, that are not used in that country.

“Nobody reports on J&J,” said Jenez, 64, of Mountain View. “We are treated like we don’t matter.”

Although state and federal health officials still say booster injections are not needed, even against the rapidly spreading variant of COVID-19 Delta, a growing number of highly respected health experts across the country countries advise otherwise for the 12.3 million Americans who have had the Johnson & Johnson shot if they are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

“For healthy people there really isn’t much need for a booster, but for people who are immunocompromised or the elderly or who need to care for people who are immunocompromised, it might be safer to take a booster.” with a shot from Pfizer or Moderna, said Dr Michael Lin, associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford University.

He is hardly alone. On Thursday, Dr Celine Gounder, an assistant professor at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University who was part of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 advisory group, echoed Lin’s advice. She cited “a significant drop in the overall efficacy of the vaccine with the J&J vaccine compared to the Delta variant”.

Johnson & Johnson insists their shot offers tough protection.

“We believe that the Johnson & Johnson single injection COVID-19 vaccine will continue to provide long-lasting protection, and at this time, there is no evidence to suggest the need for a booster dose,” a the company said in a statement.

Many don’t wait for federal and state health authorities to decide it’s a good idea. On social media, those who have received advice from J&J on whether and how to top it all off with a Pfizer or Moderna jab for extra protection.

Kali Monma, 36, of San Jose, said after following the news about the virus variants and talking to her father, who is a doctor, she was given a Pfizer vaccine, believing that a booster of her J&J vaccine will ultimately be recommended.

“I was concerned about my immunization status, more for the likelihood of passing it on to my children than for my own protection,” said Monma, a writer and mother whose children, ages 3 and 7, are too young to be. vaccinated.

Of the 155.9 million fully vaccinated people in the United States, 12.3 million, or about 8%, have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In California, 1.5 million, or 7.5%, received the blow.

Vaccine clinical trials found Pfizer to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, followed closely by Moderna at 94.1% and Johnson & Johnson at 66.3%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use new memory RNA while J&J uses older viral vector technology.

Vaccine trials were carried out before most of today’s disturbing variants took hold. Real experience in highly vaccinated countries like Israel, the UK and the US indicates that they continue to offer protection against emerging variants. But Israel used the shot from Pfizer, the UK AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and the US mainly Pfizer and Moderna.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that there was “circumstantial evidence” for the effectiveness of the J&J vaccine from studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which uses similar viral vector technology. AstraZeneca was 60% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in people infected with Delta variants, compared to 79% to 88% for Pfizer. But AstraZeneca was found to be 92% effective in preventing hospital admissions compared to 96% for Pfizer, he said.

Fauci called J & J’s vaccine “very effective” and said “there is no real basic scientific reason” for recommending a booster.

Johnson & Johnson said the durability of its vaccine’s immune response has been measured for up to 239 days. The company announced Thursday that a study found it produced a stronger response against Delta than the high efficacy it had shown against the beta variant in South Africa, with 85% protection against hospitalization And the dead. “We are confident that the efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be preserved against the Delta variant,” the company said.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA – July 02: Pictured is Sara Jenez’s digital COVID-19 vaccine record. Jenez received an injection of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in April. (Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

A recent study in the UK that found a robust immune response by mixing AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines prompted many health experts to recommend doing so to boost protection against COVID variants.

Although this strategy is being used overseas, US Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Abby Capobianco said that “at present, the information available suggests that vaccines authorized by the FDA remain effective in protecting against currently circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2 “, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The California Department of Public Health said it was “closely monitoring developments in information about the ability of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect against variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the Delta variant,” but that for now, “booster doses are not recommended.”

There is no indication that those who received another vaccine after the J&J vaccine suffered severe reactions. Monma said she had milder side effects from her recent Pfizer injection than she did after J&J shot in April.

FILE – This file photo from Saturday, March 6, 2021 shows vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a Denver pharmacy. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski, file)

But because a booster is not recommended by federal health authorities, medical providers and pharmacies with access to immunization records are denying additional vaccines to many people who have received J&J’s vaccine. It happened to Sue Haine of Portland, Ore., Who was turned down by her health plan and her local pharmacy and plans to try again at another pharmacy.

Lin said that while getting more people vaccinated is far more important than worrying about whether a single J&J vaccine will do, he is sympathetic.

“If you are a recipient of the J&J vaccine, you don’t know for sure the degree of protection,” Lin said, “and you are not allowed to do anything about it.”

About Mark A. Tomlin

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