Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Single-shot Covid vaccine from Johnson & Johnson approved in UK

A single-dose coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been approved for use in the UK.

The jab, developed in the US by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen, has been cleared for safe use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Health secretary Matt Hancock said of the news: ‘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.

‘As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.’

Four vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK, with the others developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.

The country has secured 20 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, which is 67% effective against preventing moderate to severe cases of Covid-19.

Studies suggest it also offers complete protection from hospitalisation and death.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘The Janssen vaccine will be another weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic.

‘We are doing everything we can to vaccinate all adults as quickly as possible and I encourage everybody to come forward for a jab as soon as they are eligible.’

The vaccine should be available for use in the UK towards the end of the year. It can be stored at fridge temperatures so it is easy to transport into places such as care homes.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said: ‘We now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect us from Covid-19.

‘Our work does not end here. We are continually monitoring all Covid-19 vaccines in use once they have been approved to ensure that the benefits in protecting people against the disease continue to outweigh any risks.

‘The safety of the public will always come first – you can be absolutely sure of our commitment to this.’

It is thought the MHRA was cautious about early approval of the vaccine following concerns in the US about a link to extremely rare blood clots.

There were eight cases of blood clots in more than seven million people vaccinated in the US, and they are similar to those seen in a very small number of people having the Oxford AstraZeneca jab.

But the independent Commission on Human Medicines reviewed and endorsed the MHRA’s decision.

Instead the European Medicines Agency said a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the jab’s product information.

The news comes after reports the Government is pushing to administer up to 1 million Covid-19 vaccines a day in the lead up to summer.

There are fears of the Indian variant taking hold after it emerged that as many as three-quarters of all new infections are now the Indian variant.

The one-shot vaccine is thought to be key in helping tackle the recent surge, particularly in areas which have a lower take-up of the injection.

Ministers are confident the nation’s army of 200,000 vaccination volunteers, made up of some 80,000 people, is enough to handle the increased rate of the rollout.

The Government said the country is on track to offer a vaccine to every adult by the end of July.

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