According to the latest results of a trial involving almost half a million health workers in South Africa, Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the disease by roughly half.
Glenda Gray, co-leader of the study known as Sisonke, said in an interview that the great majority of the breakthrough infections were moderate, citing unpublished data from the trial, which had previously proved the shot's success against severe disease.
J&J's vaccine, like all Covid vaccinations, was designed and tested to reduce Covid hospitalizations and deaths. Despite this, the high frequency of breakthrough infections in vaccinated people illustrates the difficulty governments confront in controlling the virus's transmission, which risks leading to the emergence of new varieties that are much more dangerous.
The limited efficiency of shots in halting mild illnesses, combined with vaccination hesitancy, means “we will continue to witness a flow of diseases,” according to Bruce Mellado, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who uses modeling to anticipate infection trajectory. Nonetheless, he believes that the effectiveness in combating mortality and serious disease could avert a "human catastrophe."
- A request for comment from J&J was not immediately returned.
Several weeks of the study were spent in South Africa, when a third wave of coronavirus infections was triggered by the highly contagious delta variety. The introduction of new, fast-spreading strains has made achieving earlier targets of herd immunity when the proportion of the population susceptible to the virus drops to such a low level that it suffocates spread more difficult.
Teachers, police officers, and other government employees have also received the J&J vaccine, which is an important part of South Africa's vaccination program. Because it can be held at refrigerator temperature, it is likely to play a key role in reaching isolated places.
Other widely used vaccines have shown to be vulnerable to outbreak diseases. Moderna Inc.'s was linked to a two-fold reduction in breakthrough risk when compared to Pfizer Inc.'s and BioNTech SE's shots, according to a research released Aug. 9. The findings were made public before they were subjected to peer review.
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