EU considers booster doses of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2021/04/10: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vial and box seen at a vaccination site. Doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being administered throughout the state of Florida despite a small number of patients who have experienced adverse reactions, including blood clots. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The European Medicines Agency says it is evaluating whether to authorise booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement Monday, the EU drug regulator said it was considering an application from J&J to recommend booster doses of the J&J vaccine for adults 18 and over, at least two months after they were first immunised.

Amid an explosive surge of new coronavirus infections across Europe, the EMA said it expected to make a decision on this within weeks.

The US Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to J&J booster doses in October, both for people who initially received the J&J and vaccine and for people who got immunised with other vaccines. J&J earlier presented results from a large study that found giving a second dose just two months after the first bumped protection against symptomatic COVID-19 to 94 per cent from 70 per cent in US recipients. Giving that booster six months later instead prompted an even bigger jump in virus-fighting antibodies.

EU countries initially ordered about 200 million doses of J&J’s vaccine, but only a fraction have been delivered after the company has faced repeated production problems.

The EMA has previously said its 27 nations could consider administering booster doses of vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for people who had received the two-dose regimens at least six months before, noting that a third shot would provide additional antibodies against COVID-19. The agency is expected to decide later this week on COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.

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