Johnson & Johnson vaccine recommended even in countries where variants circulate

The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization, which met on Monday, released its recommendations on Wednesday on the use of the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which the agency UN approved on Friday.

“In countries where the spread of variants is high and in countries where we now have information on the use of this vaccine to control SARS-CoV-2 caused by these variants, we recommend that you use it.” , said Alejandro Cravioto, chair of the WHO expert group on immunization, at a press conference.

Overall, “after examining the data, we have a vaccine that is safe,” he added, adding that the vaccine was recommended from 18 years old, and “without age limit”.

In January, Johnson & Johnson announced that its vaccine was 66% effective against Covid-19.

This vaccine is the first, approved by WHO, to require only one injection instead of two, in addition to being able to be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been urgently authorized in the United States since the end of February. It has also been in Canada since early March, and since March 11 in the EU. Prior to that, South Africa had also started administering it.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccines require two doses to be injected, and the Pfizer vaccine can only be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, around -80 degrees centigrade, making it more dispensable. difficult in many countries which do not necessarily have adequate equipment.

Conversely, Johnson & Johnson serum can be kept in a conventional refrigerator for three months at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees centigrade and it has a shelf life of three years at a temperature of -20 degrees.

The pharmaceutical group has also undertaken to sell it at cost price.

Viral vector vaccine

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he hopes the international Covax system will receive 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “as soon as possible”. Bruce Aylward, an adviser to the general manager, said he hoped for the first doses in July “or even before”.

According to the scientific director of the American company, Paul Stoffels, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “is the first vaccine which has been studied on a very large scale (around 40,000 people) including on variants”.

It has been tested in clinical trials on people 18 years of age or older in several countries, including the United States, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.

Unlike the remedies from Pfizer and Moderna, which use the innovative messenger RNA technique, “J & J’s” vaccine is a “viral vector” vaccine.

It uses as a carrier another low virulent virus, transformed to add genetic instructions from part of the virus responsible for Covid-19. Once in the cells, a typical SARS-CoV-2 protein is produced, educating the immune system to recognize it. A process also used for AstraZeneca and Sputnik vaccines.

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