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J&J vaccine, booster 85% effective in preventing severe omicron infection, study says

J&J Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Posted at 4:46 AM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 09:45:46-05

On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson released new data showing that its COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot offers significant protection against hospitalization caused by the omicron variant.

The company released data from two studies on Thursday.

The first, a real-life study conducted in South Africa, showed that of the health care workers who had gotten a single dose of the vaccine and a booster shot, 85% of them were protected against the worst outcomes of the omicron variant. That study took place between mid-November and mid-December, when omicron accounted for the vast majority of new cases in the country.

The second study was a lab experiment conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. They determined that the J&J vaccine and booster created a strong immune response in T-cells. Those cells help protect against severe infection, even when COVID-19 takes root in the body.

"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," said Dr. Mathai Mammen, Johnson & Johnson's global head of Janssen research and development. "We believe 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 our vaccine."

Johnson & Johnson said that the studies have been submitted to a pre-print server "with anticipation of publication in peer-reviewed journals."

J&J's findings come as the U.S. is amid a spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. While the country is experiencing record-breaking case rates, the White House COVID-19 response team said Wednesday that signs point to omicron being a less severe strain than past variants. Health officials still say Americans should be vigilant, as the quick spread of omicron could still tax health care systems in some parts of the country.