The South African Government News Agency has issued a comprehensive document regarding everything people need to know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which began rolling out to healthcare workers on 17 February.
South Africa received its first 80,0000 doses of the vaccine a day earlier, with a further 420,000 doses expected in the coming weeks.
The Health Department maintains that the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a good first choice for the National Vaccination Programme. States the Health Department: “This vaccine was tested in a large trial of almost 44,000 people from four continents, of whom 7,000 participants came from South Africa. The study also provided a good picture of how the vaccine works against the new 501Y.V2 variant, which is dominant in South Africa and currently responsible for around nine in 10 of all COVID-19 infections detected during the second wave.
“The South African trial showed that while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not going to prevent mild symptoms, it provides 57% protection against moderate-severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease and 100% protection against death. By way of comparison, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provided only 27% protection against mild to moderate COVID-19 caused by the new 501Y.V2 variant.”
How does it work?
Like all COVID-19 vaccines, the jab contains instructions for the spike protein on the Coronavirus.
These instructions are delivered to the immune system by a modified adenovirus that has also been used in other vaccines, such as the Ebola and Zika shots. The adenovirus is safe to use in vaccines as it has been modified so that it cannot cause disease or replicate in humans.
Non-active ingredients in the vaccine include sodium chloride, citric acid monohydrate buffer, polysorbate 80, 2 hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), ethanol (absolute), sodium hydroxide and water for injection. All of these ingredients are safe for human consumption. The vaccine does not contain any animal products and is halal.
When injected, the vaccine trains your immune system to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine does not contain the Coronavirus and will not give you COVID-19.
Some mild side effects include tenderness at the injection site, feeling unwell, feverish and a headache for a few days and these are positive signs that the body is mounting an immune response to the Coronavirus.
When you encounter real Coronavirus particles in future, your immune system will be able to disarm the virus so that you either do not fall ill at all or if you do, the symptoms are mild and your chances of being hospitalised or dying are much lower.
Protection starts around 10 to 14 days after vaccination and even as early as seven days for severe disease and can also rise to good levels around a month after vaccination.
It is currently the only vaccine available that uses a single dose, while others require two shots.
States the Health Department: “No vaccine provides 100% protection. However, the jab is said to provide 57% protection against moderate-severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease, and 100% protection against death.
“The researchers are still waiting for further results on how effective the vaccine is at preventing asymptomatic transmission.