COVID-19: Johnson & Johnson’s booster shot effective against severe disease from Omicron, study finds

Amid a rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases globally, there are calls to ramp up the vaccination process. Also, experts around the world are urging people to get booster shots if they are eligible. 

Johnson & Johnson, after a clinical trial, found that its booster shot offered strong protection against the Omicron variant of the virus and reduced the risk of hospitalisation. 

The trial focused on vaccine effectiveness against hospital admission in South African health care workers who received a homologous booster of Ad26.COV2 during an Omicron COVID19 wave. 

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The study compared more than 69,000 boosted health care workers with a corresponding group of unvaccinated South Africans. The result showed that two shots of the vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron by about 85 per cent.

It’s important to note that the article, published in MedRxiv, is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed. It is recommended that the new medical research, that’s yet to be evaluated, should not be used to guide clinical practice.

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Abstract of the study read: “We provide the first evidence of the effectiveness of a homologous Ad26.COV.2 vaccine boost given 6-9 months after the initial single vaccination series during a period of omicron variant circulation.”

“This data is important given the increased reliance on the Ad26.COV.2 vaccine in Africa,” it added. 

In comparison, another study in South Africa found that two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalisation by about 70 per cent.

Global COVID-19 tally

The number of daily new Covid cases worldwide has crossed one million for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago, according to an AFP tally Thursday.

The figures for 23-29 December, the highest since the virus first emerged at the end of 2019, are based on tolls given daily by health authorities in each country.

More than 7.3 million new Covid-19 cases were detected around the world in the last seven days — an average of 1,045,000 infections every day — following a surge in cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The numbers are much higher than the last record before the current wave when daily cases stood at 817,000 on average between April 23 and 29.

(With inputs from agencies)

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