By Joe Davies for MailOnline
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine has finally been authorised for use by the UK medicines regulator but it will not be available until later this year.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) today announced the vaccine meets the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the jab as another ‘another weapon in our arsenal to beat the pandemic’.
Earlier this year, the single-dose vaccine was shown to be 67 per cent effective overall in preventing Covid infection and 85 per cent effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalisation.
The vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, between two to eight degrees, making it ideal for distribution to care homes and other locations across the UK.
Johnson & Johnson ‘s single-dose Covid vaccine has finally been authorised for use by the UK medicines regulator but it will not be available until later this year
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, previously said could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people, where recalling them for a second jab is not always successful.
Health officials believe the one dose schedule could be more appealing to vaccine-hesitant Britons, who they fear are harder to convince to turn up for two appointments.
It only takes three weeks following injection to achieve full protection.
The vaccines currently being rolled out in Britain require two doses, given three months apart.
Britain originally ordered 30million doses of J&J’s vaccine but the order has been reduced to 20million these are not expected to start arriving until mid-summer.
In April, the European Medicines Agency said a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the product information for the vaccine.
This followed eight cases of blood clots in more than seven million people vaccinated in the US.
The condition in question, known as cerebral sinus venous thrombosis (CSVT), is the development of a blood clot in a vein that carries blood away from the brain. Experts say it is occurring in combination with low levels of blood platelets.
Several European countries have restricted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in under-40s, with Belgium halting its use to the group yesterday after a woman died of a complication.
Officials insist the disorder — the same as the one seen in AstraZeneca’s vaccine — is extremely rare but seems to be happening slightly more often in young people who have been vaccinated.
Johnson & Johnson say the vaccine works across multiple variants of coronavirus. Other vaccines have been shown to be effective against the Indian variant currently spreading in the UK so experts believe the Johnson & Johnson jab will as well.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.
‘As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.’
As with all vaccines, the government is in regular contact with the manufacturers, including exploring how best to optimise supply across the current programme and preparing for a potential booster programme from later this year.
The Vaccine Taskforce originally secured 30million doses of the Janssen vaccine last year, based on the predicted clinical need at the time.
Britain originally ordered 30million doses of the Johnson and Johnson, or Janssen, vaccine but its order has been reduced to 20million
With the UK’s Covid vaccination programme continuing at an unprecedented scale and pace, the government has decided to amend its original order to 20million.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice for the Janssen vaccine before doses become available.
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘The Janssen vaccine will be another weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic.
‘We are doing everything we can to vaccinate all adults as quickly as possible and I encourage everybody to come forward for a jab as soon as they are eligible.’
In a clinical trial involving 43,783 people, published earlier this year, the level of protection against moderate to severe Covid infection was found to be 72 per cent in the United States arm of the trial.
It was 66 per cent in the Latin American arm of the trial, and 57 per cent in the South African arm, where a mutant variant of the virus has been dominating.