J&J vaccine is effective against variants, small study says

Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against several coronavirus variants, according to a study published June 9 in Nature.

The study analyzed the antibody and cellular immune responses of 20 volunteers between ages 18 and 55. It found the vaccine activated responses against the original coronavirus strain, as well as the alpha, beta, gamma and epsilon variants. 

Fewer neutralizing antibodies were activated against the beta and gamma variants, which were first identified in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. Compared to the original coronavirus, trial participants produced five times fewer neutralizing antibodies against the beta variant and 3.3 times less neutralizing antibodies against the gama variant. However, non-neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses remained "largely preserved," which the study authors said would protect vaccine recipients from the variants.

The study said the single-shot vaccine protected against severe COVID-19 in 86 percent of participants in the U.S. It also said the vaccine protected against severe COVID-19 in 88 percent of participants in Brazil and 82 percent in South Africa, where the beta and gamma variants are prevalent.


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