Dr Sibusiso Ndaba was among the medical frontline workers at Tygerberg Hospital who received his Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine jab on Friday. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
Dr Sibusiso Ndaba was among the medical frontline workers at Tygerberg Hospital who received his Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine jab on Friday. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Healthcare workers could require J&J 'booster' shot

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Apr 6, 2021

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DURBAN – HEALTHCARE workers who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could require a booster shot.

According to vaccinologist and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University, Professor Shabir Madhi, the duration of protection of the J&J vaccine lasts for a period of between 60 and 70 days.

Speaking during an interview with 702's Bongani Bingwa, he said we need to stop thinking about the J&J as a single dose vaccine as it could require a booster dose as is the case with other vaccines.

Madhi explained that in principal, there would be an expected better immune response with two dose vaccines as opposed to single dose vaccines.

"When the J&J vaccine was evaluated in its first study as a single dose shot, they were evaluating it under emergency conditions, wanting to see whether single dose in the midst of a surge had efficacy against Covid-19. This doesn't necessarily mean that the duration of the protection of the single dose J&J vaccine is going to be the same as two doses of the J&J vaccine and similarly of what we know about the Pfizer vaccine is that the duration of protection lasts for around six months, yet the J&J vaccine was only evaluated for a period of efficacy for around 60 to 70 days," he said.

Madhi said it was probable that all those who have been administered the J&J vaccine would require a second or booster shot.

He said J&J is looking at a two-day schedule to determine whether there is a longer last protection with two doses.

He explained that the studies were ongoing.

"In all likelihood, I suspect it would require a second dose to boost immune response," Madhi said.

SA is expected to receive 30 million more doses of the J&J vaccine while it has been confirmed that the Department of Health has signed a contract with Pfizer for the supply of 20 million vaccines, set to arrive in mid April.

The Pfizer vaccine is said to have a 91% efficacy rate against the B.1.351 variant.

Madhi said from the 800 participants who took part in a SA study, there were about six cases of people with the new variant. He said the vaccine efficacy showed significant results.

"This is promising news and it would be great if we could get as much of the Pfizer vaccines," he said.

The health department has been heavily criticised for its sluggish start to its vaccine roll-out plan.

To date, just over 269 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, SA yesterday recorded 452 new cases with eight deaths. Total figures: 1 552 416 positive cases identified and 52 995 deaths.

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