FILE PHOTO: A box of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is seen at the Forem vaccination center in Pamplona, Spain April 22, 2021 (REUTERS / Vincent West / File Photo)
A few say they’ve done it themselves before, even without published data on the safety and effectiveness of combining two different vaccines or on the backing of U.S. health regulators. Canada and some European countries already allow people to receive two different COVID-19 injections.
The debate centers on concerns about the protection of the J&J shot against the Delta variant first detected in India and which is now circulating widely in many countries. Delta, which has also been linked with more serious illness, could quickly become the dominant version of the virus in the United States, Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky has warned.
There is no substantial data showing how protective the J&J vaccine is against the new variant. However, British studies show that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines are significantly more protective against the variant than one.
Andy Slavitt, former senior pandemic adviser to US President Joe Biden, brought up the idea this week on his podcast. At least a half-dozen leading infectious disease experts have said US regulators need to tackle the problem as soon as possible.
“There is no doubt that people who receive the J&J vaccine are less protected against the disease,” than those who receive two doses of other vaccines, said Stanford professor Dr. Michael Lin. “The principle of taking easy steps to avoid very bad results is really obvious. “
The CDC does not recommend recalls, and agency advisers said at a public meeting this week that there was no significant evidence yet of a decline in vaccine protection.
Jason Gallagher, an infectious disease expert at Temple University School of Pharmacy, recently received a dose of Pfizer at the Philadelphia Vaccination Clinic where he administered injections. He received the J&J vaccine in a clinical trial in November.
Gallagher said he was concerned about UK data showing less efficacy against the Delta variant for people who received a dose of the vaccine.
“While the situation has improved so much in the United States, the Delta variant which is spreading … and taking over very quickly in the United States seems a little more worrying in terms of revolutionary infections with single-dose vaccines” , did he declare. . “So I took the plunge. “
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have plummeted in the United States with 56% of the adult population fully vaccinated.
J&J said he is testing whether his vaccine’s immune response is able to neutralize the Delta variant in the lab, but no data is available yet.
Both mRNA vaccines showed efficacy rates of around 95% in large US trials, while J & J’s vaccine was 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 globally when more variants contagious were circulating.
Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a researcher at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, said on Twitter that she received a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine this week after receiving J&J in April.
Rasmussen, who declined to be interviewed, encouraged Americans who have received the J&J vaccine to talk to their doctors about a possible second injection.
“If you live in a community where immunization is generally low, I strongly suggest that you consider doing so,” she tweeted.
Vaccine expert Dr Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine said in a tweet that adding a second dose of J&J or one of the mRNA vaccines could offer broader protection, “but we need data and advice from CDC-FDA ”.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is conducting a trial to determine the need to bolster all currently permitted injections with another dose of Moderna’s vaccine. NIAID scientist Dr John Beigel told Reuters the agency hopes to have this data by September to help inform regulators’ decisions on boosters.
As long as the number of cases remains low in the United States, J&J recipients should wait for more data, he said.
If infections and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant increase significantly, he said, “then decisions may have to be made in the absence of data. But for now, I think it’s appropriate that they wait. “
(Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)
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