The UK medicines regulator has approved the single-shot vaccine produced by Janssen.
The single-dose vaccine, which is expected to be available in the UK later in the year, recorded efficacy rates of 85% in stopping severe disease and has now satisfied safety standards following an extensive review.
The Janssen vaccine is the fourth jab approved for use in the UK following the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. More than 39 million people have now received their first vaccine dose, which equates to over three-quarters of the UK adult population. Currently, over 30s are eligible for the vaccine in England, with the rollout expected to continue down the age groups in the coming weeks. Ministers have insisted that every adult will be offered a first vaccine by the end of July.
The Janssen vaccine has been approved for use in adults and is likely to be employed as a booster in the autumn and winter months. It can be stored and transported at fridge temperatures, which may mean that it is used in care homes and other settings that may be more difficult to reach with other vaccines.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to provide further details about who will receive the vaccine in due course. The jab has already been approved by the EMA (Europeans Medicine Agency), the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and the WHO (World Health Organisation).
Vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, welcomed the news from the regulator, describing the fourth vaccine as “another weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic.” Mr Zahawi also encouraged anyone who is eligible for a vaccine to come forward and urged those who are waiting to be called to make an appointment as soon as they are eligible. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. There are also plans to move some second doses forward from a 12 week interval to eight weeks to offer greater protection amid the spread of the variant first identified in India.