Experts and authorities are noticing increased breakthroughs in vaccine from Johnson & JohnsonOn September 18, 2021 by Paula Antle
Vaccinated and still got Corona? While this is rare, it still happens. The number of so-called vaccine breakthroughs with the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is noticeably high – not only in this country. According to the latest weekly report from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 39 228 probable vaccine breakthroughs have been identified so far – in relative terms, the most common after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The criticism is getting louder and louder: Is the remedy less effective, especially against the dominant Delta variant?
So far, according to the weekly report, people have fallen ill in 6106 cases despite complete vaccination protection by the Johnson & Johnson preparation. According to the RKI, a good three million people have received a Johnson & Johnson vaccination so far. For every million people vaccinated, there would be a rough estimate of 2000 vaccination breakthroughs. However, with this type of calculation it should be borne in mind that not all vaccinated persons have passed the two weeks after which complete vaccination protection is assumed. In addition, it does not take into account how long ago the vaccination was in the individual case.
For comparison: For people who received the vaccine most frequently used in Germany – Biontech / Pfizer ( BioNTech (ADRs) ) – as a second dose , these figures show around 675 breakthroughs per million fully vaccinated. With AstraZeneca it is around 830, with the 2nd dose of Moderna it is around 400.
The RKI defines a probable vaccination breakthrough as a corona infection with clinical symptoms despite complete vaccination protection. J & J’s vaccine is the only corona vaccine approved so far in the EU that, according to the EU Medicines Agency (EMA), only requires one dose. All other vaccines require two syringes.
Johnson & Johnson has therefore been increasingly used in recent months for people who are difficult to reach for a second vaccination; for example when mobile vaccination teams are deployed to immunize the homeless or people in socially disadvantaged areas. In Germany, the vaccine is recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) only for people over 60.
Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology, explains the vaccine breakthroughs: “Delta is more contagious than Alpha and about twice as contagious as the original virus. In addition, Delta bypasses the immune protection of the vaccinations somewhat. That is why we are seeing more breakthrough infections with Delta. ” The fact that the vaccine from Johnson – & – Johnson performs worse here compared to the other preparations is mainly due to the protective effect of the vaccine itself, Watzl told the German press agency.
After vaccination with the agent, it takes longer than after the mRNA vaccinations until sufficient antibodies have formed. “Sometimes the levels are still rising more than a month after the vaccination.” However, 14 days after vaccination one is considered to have been completely immunized and an infection would be considered a breakthrough infection. “At that point in time you are not yet fully protected by the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. And the antibody levels are well below those produced by the other vaccines,” explains Watzl.
Since the antibodies, especially on the mucous membranes, are important for protection against infection, the protection against corona infection after the Johnson & Johnson vaccination appears to be significantly worse, according to the expert. So isn’t a single dose from Johnson & Johnson enough? It is anything but surprising that a single dose of such a vaccine only triggers protection for a limited period of time, says Stiko member Christian Bogdan.
The vaccination breakthroughs are due, on the one hand, to the one-dose vaccination schedule – and only for this the company has so far been approved, says Bogdan. On the other hand, the over-60s, in whom the vaccine is primarily used in Germany due to its side-effect profile, again developed a lower and less long-lasting immune response after vaccinations compared to young people. The third factor is the highly infectious Delta variant, says Bogdan.
In France, for example, there is now evidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be less effective. Hospitals in Marseille and Tours recently reported that a strikingly high number of vaccinated people had received the preparation from Johnson & Johnson in the intensive care unit. As of Tuesday, there were four out of eleven consignees in Marseille and three out of nine in Tours.