Study: Johnson & Johnson booster provides more protection against Omicron

  According to findings from a study of healthcare workers in South Africa released Thursday, Johnson & Johnson's booster injection delivers substantial levels of protection against the omicron type of Covid-19.

Preliminary findings from the Sisonke research, which have not been peer-reviewed, indicated that among those who had already had one vaccination dose, the booster increased protection against hospitalization from 63 percent to 85 percent.

The study, carried out by the South African Medical Research Council compared 69,000 healthcare workers in South Africa to a group of unvaccinated South Africans.

The tests took place in November and December, but people were enrolled before the current wave that is sweeping the country, allowing researchers to "evaluate the effectiveness of the Company's Covid-19 vaccine specifically as omicron became the dominant variant in the country," according to a statement from Johnson & Johnson.

The authors of the research stated that it showed "the first indication of the efficiency" of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, known as Ad26.COV.2, when administered six to nine months after the initial dosage.

"This result is significant considering Africa's rising dependence on the Ad26.COV.2 vaccination," the report stated.

"Data from the Sisonke 2 study confirm that the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 booster shot provides 85 percent effectiveness against hospitalization in areas where omicron is dominant," Mathai Mammen, global head of Janssen Research & Development, a Johnson & Johnson-owned pharmaceutical company, said in a statement.

"This contributes to the expanding body of research demonstrating that the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine's efficacy stays robust and consistent over time, especially against circulating variations such as omicron and Delta."

The Johnson & Johnson booster was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in October, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that consumers obtain the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters instead, citing worries about exceedingly uncommon blood clots.

According to the CDC, Omicron is currently the main variety of Covid-19 in the United States, accounting for 73% of new cases.

A separate South African research published earlier this month found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine provided 70% protection against hospitalization from the new strain.

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