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J&J booster 85% effective against Omicron hospitalisation, S.Africa says -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, “COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only” and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Tim Cocks

JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) –A Johnson and Johnson vaccine booster shot for Omicron is 85% effective at protecting you from being hospitalized by it within 1-2 months. This was announced Friday by South Africa’s Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

Glenda Gray provided the conclusions of an SAMRC study to a South African ministry briefing about the COVID-19 fourth-wave, which is being driven by this new variant.

She said, “We observed a 85% level of vaccine efficacy and that it can be maintained for as long as two months.” We are extremely happy to report high vaccine effectiveness against Omicron.

The study involved 477,234 healthcare workers, all of them vaccinated with the J&J (NYSE:) shot, of whom 236,000 — roughly half — had received the J&J booster shot.

The study examined hospitalizations of healthcare workers infected by the fourth wave. It found that hospitalisations were reduced by 63% within the first 2 weeks, rising to 85% over the next 1 and 2 months.

“This is the world’s first evidence of vaccine effectiveness (against Omicron) using the J&J vaccine,” Gray said.

South African authorities prefer the Pfizer (NYSE:) vaccine — they have administered 21 million doses, three times as many as the roughly 7 million J&J vaccine doses.

But the J&J shot is considered logistically much more preferable because it is a single dose regimen, which is easier to administer in remote rural areas, where follow ups can be difficult.

These data support strong evidence worldwide that Omicron is capable of evading vaccine protection during the first infection.

The Omicron wave saw about 35,000 breakthrough infections, which is a significant increase from the 11,000 that were recorded in previous waves that had been driven by Beta or Delta versions.

It was also revealed in the study that HIV patients were less likely to be admitted for Omicron.

Gray stated that hospitalized patients are at greater risk of contracting HIV than those who were in the Beta or Delta periods.

HIV prevalence is approximately 13% in South Africa.

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