The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved Johnson & Johnson’s single dose Covid-19 vaccine for use, the Department of Health said in a statement on Friday, making it the fourth one available for use in Britain.
The DH said that the government had decided to order 20 million doses of the single-shot vaccine, also known as Janssen, amending an original order for 30 million doses.
The independent Commission on Human Medicines has reviewed the MHRA’s decision that Janssen’s vaccine met the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness, and endorsed it.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.
“As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”
Earlier this year, the single-dose vaccine was shown to be 67 per cent effective overall in preventing Covid-19 infection and 85 per cent effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalisation.
The vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, between two to eight degrees, making it ideal for distribution to care homes and other locations across the UK.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice for the Janssen vaccine before doses become available.
The government is preparing for a booster programme based on clinical need and will publish further details in due course. The final policy will be informed by advice from the JCVI and take into account the results of clinical trials.
Vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The Janssen vaccine will be another weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic.
“We are doing everything we can to vaccinate all adults as quickly as possible and I encourage everybody to come forward for a jab as soon as they are eligible.”
The DH says vaccinated people are far less likely to get Covid-19 symptoms, even more unlikely to get serious Covid-19, to be admitted to hospital, or to die from it and there is growing evidence that vaccinated people are less likely to pass the virus to others.