In a new study from the South African Medical Research Council, researchers found a homologous (same vaccine) booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S) demonstrated 85% effectiveness against COVID-19-related hospitalization.
They found that the Johnson & Johnson booster reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 among healthcare workers in South Africa after Omicron became the dominant variant.
During the months studied (mid-November to mid-December) the frequency of Omicron increased from 82% to 98% of COVID-19 cases in South Africa.
A second, separate analysis conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) found that a heterologous booster (different vaccine) of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who initially received the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine generated a 41-fold increase in neutralizing antibody responses by four weeks following the boost and a 5-fold increase in CD8+ T-cells to Omicron by two weeks.
The increase in CD8+ T-cells generated by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be key to explaining the high levels of effectiveness against severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalization, as the Omicron variant has been shown to escape neutralizing antibodies.
The study confirms that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shot provides 85% effectiveness against hospitalization in areas where Omicron is dominant.
This adds to the growing body of evidence that 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.
The team believes that the protection could be due to the robust T-cell responses induced by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Furthermore, these data suggest that Omicron is not affecting the T-cell responses generated by the vaccine.
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The study is posted on medRxiv.
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