FDA vaccine advisers to meet to consider Johnson & Johnson booster, discuss mix and match boosters
(CNN) — Vaccine advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are meeting Friday to decide whether to recommend a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, will consider J&J’s request for emergency use authorization for a booster for its single-dose vaccine for people 18 and older.
The Janssen vaccine was authorized later than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, in February, while the other two were authorized in December.
It uses different technology. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use mRNA technology, while the J&J vaccine uses a virus called an adenovirus to carry a piece of the coronavirus into the body to induce an immune response. From the beginning, the J&J vaccine has been less effective than the mRNA vaccines. While the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines started out producing a startling efficacy of 94% or 95%, J&J’s had an overall efficacy of 72% in the United States.
Johnson & Johnson says studies have shown boosting at two, six or eight months can bring that effectiveness up to 94% and it says its effectiveness does not wane over time in the same way that effectiveness from Pfizer’s vaccine does.
About 15 million people have gotten Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in the U.S.
A discussion and voting period on J&J’s application is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. EDT and last up to two hours.
The FDA has already given EUA to a booster for Pfizer’s vaccine for people who are six months out from their first two shots who are also either 65 or older or who are at least 18 and have a higher risk of severe disease because of pre-existing conditions or because of work or living conditions.
And Americans are already flocking to get those boosters. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show close to 5% of fully vaccinated people — about 9 million people — have received booster shots.
On Thursday, VRBPAC members voted unanimously to recommend booster doses of Moderna’s vaccine to the same groups.
If the FDA gives emergency use authorization to Moderna or Johnson & Johnson boosters, vaccine advisers to the CDC will meet to discuss which groups to recommend them to. Typically, shots can be administered once the CDC director signs off on the recommendation. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to discuss boosters on Oct. 21.
After the J&J booster discussion, the FDA vaccine advisers will hear a presentation from the National Institutes of Health about its ongoing study looking at whether it’s effective to mix different booster doses with primary vaccine series. The committee is not scheduled to vote on that question and is set to adjourn by 5 p.m. EDT.
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