Covid: Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine approved for use in UK

The vaccine is the fourth to be approved so far by British regulators, ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports

The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).Trials have shown the jab has been shown to be 67% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19, and is thought to be 85% effective in preventing severe disease or admission to hospital.

The jab has been produced by Janssen, the Belgian-based pharmaceutical arm of the US health conglomerate Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

The government has secured 20 million doses for all of the UK and it is expected to be rolled out towards to end of this year.

The J&J vaccine is the fourth vaccine to be approved in the UK. Credit: PA

Although the UK ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine early on in the pandemic this only means 20 million people can be fully vaccinated because of the need for two doses, meaning the J&J goes twice as far as the other ones already available.

The UK ordered an additional 60 million doses of the Pfizer jab in April to be rolled out for booster jabs towards the end of the year.

The vaccine is the fourth to be approved so far by British regulators, after the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

The Vaccine Taskforce originally secured 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine last year, based on the predicted clinical need at the time bit with the success of the vaccine rollout the order has been cut to 20 million.

Credit: PA

Announcing that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had approved the vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus."

The vaccine can be stored at normal fridge temperatures which means it could be used for distribution in places such as care homes.

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.

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In April, the European Medicines Agency said a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the product information for the vaccine.

This followed eight cases of blood clots in more than seven million people vaccinated in the US.

Johnson & Johnson has said the vaccine works across multiple variants of coronavirus.

In a clinical trial involving 43,783 people, published earlier this year, the level of protection against moderate to severe Covid-19 infection was found to be 72% in the United States arm of the trial.

It was 66% in the Latin American arm of the trial, and 57% in the South African arm, where a mutant variant of the virus has been dominating.

The overall efficacy from clinical trials combined was put at 67%.

The vaccine is part of the UK’s Cov-Boost study which is looking at the effectiveness of a range of vaccines that could be used as a booster shot in the autumn.So far the UK has given the first dose of the jab to 73.3% of its adult population and 45.6% have been fully vaccinated.