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BSI response to approval of Janssen vaccine in the UK

28 May 2021

Today, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced the approval of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK. In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.

Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“Having a range of vaccines against COVID-19 is important in helping us defeat this pandemic, so news that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has today approved a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK is extremely welcome.

“The Janssen vaccine is a viral vector vaccine like the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and works in a similar manner. The main difference between these two vaccines however is that the Janssen vaccine only needs to be given as a single dose. 

“The UK has doses of the Janssen vaccine on order for delivery later this year, so while this approval won’t have an immediate impact on the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, it is reassuring to know that stocks of this vaccine will be delivered in due course. The Janssen vaccine is part of an ongoing trial looking at the potential need for booster vaccine doses later in the year – the results of this will be important in determining how supplies of this vaccine can be best utilised when they arrive.

“Safety in vaccines is always paramount and the MHRA will have carefully scrutinised the evidence on this COVID-19 vaccine to ensure that it is both safe and effective. Although all COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in a shorter timeframe than normal, all the same rigorous safety standards and checks have still been carried out. With previous studies showing the Janssen vaccine is 67% effective in stopping infection and 85% effective in preventing severe disease, this vaccine will be an important additional tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.”