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J&J says study shows vaccine boosters 85% effective preventing severe COVID-19

Johnson & Johnson said booster doses of its vaccine, produced by subsidiary Janssen, appear to offer protection against severe coronavirus illness. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
Johnson & Johnson said booster doses of its vaccine, produced by subsidiary Janssen, appear to offer protection against severe coronavirus illness. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Johnson & Johnson said Thursday that a real-world study in South Africa showed that a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine was 85% effective in preventing COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

The drugmaker said the study, conducted by the South African Medical Research Council, showed that the extra dose reduced hospitalizations among healthcare workers after the Omicron became the dominant variant there.

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The Omicron variant increased from 82% to 98% at the time of the study, researchers said.

"This adds to our growing body of evidence which shows that the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine remains strong and stable over time, including against circulating variants such as Omicron and Delta," Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of Janssen Research & Development, said in a statement.

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Janssen Research is a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

Johnson & Johnson said the study was conducted in about 350 vaccination centers across South Africa.

"We believe that the protection could be due to the robust T-cell responses induced by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine," Mammen added.

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"Furthermore, these data suggest that Omicron is not affecting the T-cell responses generated by our vaccine."

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna over Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine because they are more effective in fighting COVID-19.

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"We are therefore encouraged to see that boosting with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine regimen provides strong protection in a challenging real-world setting where there is an elevated risk of exposure -- not just to COVID-19, but to the highly transmissible Omicron variant," Glenda Gray, CEO of the South African Medical Research Council, said in a statement.

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