New study suggests Johnson & Johnson less effective against variants

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective in battling coronavirus variants than other shots, a new study suggests.

The results, published by bioRxiv but not yet peer reviewed or published in a journal, suggest that the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna could better protect against the delta and lambda strains than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The effectiveness of the vaccine in neutralizing the disease "significantly decreased" with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the study found.

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Overall, the results found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 94-95 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, and Johnson & Johnson to be 66.9 percent effective.

Nathaniel Landau, a virologist at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine who led the study, told The New York Times the researchers don't wish to scare people off from getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but say it can be supplemented with another dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or with a different vaccine.

"The message that we wanted to give was not that people shouldn’t get the J&J vaccine, but we hope that in the future, it will be boosted with either another dose of J&J or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna," Landau said.

Another expert said he believes the efficacy of Johnson & Johnson would be increased if it was spread out over two doses — a theory he says was proven through various studies.

"I have always thought, and often said, that the J&J vaccine is a two-dose vaccine," John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told the Times.

The new study comes two weeks after Johnson & Johnson announced their vaccine was effective against the delta variant.

"We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the delta variant. This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine’s ability to protect against multiple variants of concern," Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said in a release