Covid-19 roundup: J&J offers new data to support boosters — but some experts are not impressed; Thailand university's robotic arm maximizes vaccine vials
Amidst all the booster shot talk with Pfizer and Moderna, J&J on Wednesday offered new data that may lead to its own single-shot booster.
New interim data from Phase I/IIa trials showed that J&J’s booster generated a level of spike-binding antibodies that was 9-fold higher than 28 days after the first single-dose shot.
“We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months. With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” global head of R&D Mathai Mammen said in a statement.
The study, however, only featured 20 patients, three of which ended up being excluded from the data. Those three recipients had a sharp increase in antibody responses during study, with one recipient having breakthrough infection with minor symptoms and 2 who had received an mRNA vaccine. Antibodies changed just a little, which led Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Institute, to criticize the press release from J&J on Twitter.
“Where are the results from their 2-dose trial?” he tweeted.
Minimal data about 2nd dose if J&J vaccine getting a lot of PR and attention, based on 17 participants antibody levels and unrelated to Delta infections. Where are the results from their 2-dose trial?https://t.co/RPEQLyEeAe pic.twitter.com/tvwlYZsiKN
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) August 25, 2021
Thailand university’s robotic arm maximizes vaccine vials
In hopes of batting down its worse Covid-19 outbreak yet, Thailand will introduce a robotic arm called the “AutoVacc” to help draw more efficient doses of vaccines and maximize the country’s low supply.
The arm comes from Chulalongkorn University, and scientists say that it can draw 12 doses of the vaccine in four minutes from a vial, an improvement from the 10 doses drawn manually. It’s been used at the university’s vaccination center since Monday, and solely deals with AstraZeneca vials, according to Reuters, which says on the label that it contains between 10 and 11 doses. The prototype cost $76,243, and the team plans to make similar machines to use with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as well.
Previously, health workers used a certain type of syringe called a low dead space syringe to reduce the waste, but those require skilled manpower, something that lead researcher Juthamas Ratanavaraporn says could drain energy, as they’d be at it for months.
Just about 9% of the Thailand population has been fully vaccinated, while 28% has received at least one dose.
British study finds waning vaccine protection
A study out of England has found that the protection offered by the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines fades within six months, reiterating the need for booster shots.
The efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab fell from 88% to 74% after five to six months, and AstraZeneca’s fell from 77% to 67% after four to five months, Reuters reports. That study used data from 1.2 million test results.
Protection for the elderly and healthcare workers could drop by 50% by this winter, the study’s principal investigator Tim Spector said. Britain has begun plans for a booster campaign later this year, while in the US, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that boosters were recommended for Americans eight months after their initial vaccination.
For a look at all Endpoints News coronavirus stories, check out our special news channel.