- The National Institutes of Health study found that the J&J shot followed by one of the mRNA vaccines as a booster elicited a stronger immune response than two doses of J&J.
- In response to the study, Johnson & Johnson found that having a booster dose of their vaccine increased the immune response regardless of a person’s previous primary vaccination.
- The FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products meets on Thursday to discuss Moderna boosters and on Friday J&J boosters.
The best booster for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could be either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health published Wednesday.
“Mix and Match was a big study that people have been waiting for, it brought a lot of new data, and there hasn’t been one about Johnson & Johnson with an mRNA booster,” said Dr. Eric Topol, vice president of research at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. And national expert on the use of data in medical research.
The study, in which nearly 500 people took part, found that the J&J shot followed by one of the mRNA vaccines as a booster elicited a stronger immune response than two doses of J&J.
For people receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose series, a booster dose of either mRNA vaccine was effective.
The new study took place just a day before a key advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration met to discuss possible booster doses of the Moderna and J&J vaccines. Pfizer boosters were approved on September 24th.
Stay in contact: Subscribe to Coronavirus Watch, your daily update on COVID-19 in the US
The data from the NIH study will be presented to the FDA committee Friday afternoon after a possible J&J booster vaccination is to be voted on for people who have already received the same type of vaccination, according to the agenda.
The Mix and Match team’s study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. It compared all possible combinations of the three vaccines followed by a booster.
“If you look at the mix and match data, you would say, ‘Wow, I really want to get an mRNA booster.’ It basically does Johnson & Johnson as good as an mRNA two-shot series, ‘”Topol said.
The study participants were divided into three groups. One received the two-dose range of the Pfizer vaccine, one received the two-dose range from Moderna, and one received the “one-off” J&J vaccine.
Each group was then divided into three smaller groups. One got Pfizer as a booster, one Moderna and one J&J.
Participants’ antibody levels to COVID-19 were measured two weeks and then four weeks after receiving the booster.
People who received either the Pfizer or Moderna series and Pfizer or Moderna boosters all received similar protection.
The lowest antibody levels were in people who received a J&J syringe followed by a J&J booster.
“Naked in the world of COVID”:Some recipients of J&J vaccines feel unprotected against Delta and want mRNA injections
In response to the study, Johnson & Johnson found that having a booster dose of their vaccine increased the immune response regardless of a person’s previous primary vaccination.
“Johnson & Johnson will continue to provide available boosting data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies and looks forward to discussing the latest available data on the Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products this week,” said the company in a publication.
The NIH study didn’t provide any real-world data on how effective the vaccines plus boosters were in preventing mild or severe COVID-19. However, it is believed that the antibody response is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the vaccine.
There is roughly equivalent real data from Spain and the United Kingdom. People who got the similar AstraZeneca vaccine or the J&J vaccine and then a Pfizer booster had high levels of antibodies.
FDA committee meets Thursday and Friday for Moderna, J&J boosters
The FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products meets on Thursday to discuss Moderna boosters and on Friday J&J boosters.
Briefing documents released Wednesday only presented data from a small study of 17 people who received a J&J booster six months after their first vaccination.
J&J has a much larger study in the works, but the data has not been passed on to the FDA, which will make the decision on whether to approve a booster. It is not clear whether the agency’s small group of recipients is enough to approve a six-month refresher.
Tracking the Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines by State:How many people were vaccinated in the United States?
“The hope was that we could find a solution to this problem and that J&J would get emergency approval for a booster. Now things have gotten a little more complicated, ”said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
The safety data for those given a J&J booster were good, and according to the FDA, the vaccine “still offers protection from severe COVID-19 disease and death,” albeit less than mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
In its briefing documents, J&J said boosters could be given between two and six months after the first vaccination, depending on who received the vaccination and how strong their immune response was.
About 15 million Americans were fully vaccinated with the J&J vaccine, compared to 103 million who got Pfizer and 69 million who got Moderna. To date, 8.8 million Americans have received a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.