Johnson & Johnson vaccine OKed for Belgium

The European Medicines Agency, the EMA, has given the green light for the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Belgium has ordered 5 million doses of the vaccine that was partly developed here.  In Belgium the vaccine can start to be administered in April.

Vaccinologist Geert Leroux-Roels explains that the vaccine is the result of international co-operation in which a Belgian division of the company Janssen Vaccines & Prevention played a considerable role.  Prof Leroux-Roels’s Ghent centre took part in the clinical trials. These trials showed that with only one dose the vaccine provides very good protection against serious disease and death across all age categories.

Given global demand for vaccines J&J decided to concentrate their research on an effective one dose vaccine.  Its development now makes the global vaccination drive a lot easier. 

Prof Leroux-Roels: “The first big effectiveness study showed that one jab was sufficient to create good protection against moderate and serious Covid infection as well as against critical infection and death.  How long this protection will last has not yet been established.  J&J recently initiated a second large scale study to learn whether a second dose is required in order to create lengthy protection.  Test volunteers are still being recruited.  Results will follow later.”

Minor side effects are possible after the vaccine has been administered but Prof Leroux-Roels insists that shouldn’t worry us:

“Side effects are comparable to those of other corona vaccines.  Half those injected may feel some soreness where the needle pierced the skin but that shouldn’t last more than two days.  A third of people experience flu-like symptoms: headache, tiredness and muscle pains.  This shouldn’t be a concern and you can take a painkiller if you would like some relief.”

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