The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown to be 67 percent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid infections, with some studies suggesting it also offers complete protection from hospital admission and death. In a statement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the move as “a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives”. Mr Hancock added: “We now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.”
The UK has ordered 20million doses of the jab, which England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has previously suggested could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people, where repeating a vaccine appointment is a less viable option.
Mr Hancock added: “As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”
The MHRA had previously held back from approving the vaccine after concerns were raised about links to an extremely rare blood clot in the US.
The clots are similar to those seen in a very small proportion of people having the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
In April, the use of Johnson & Johnson was suspended in the US while the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated eight “serious” cases of rare clotting.
READ MORE: Johnson & Johnson vaccine effectiveness: How does jab compare?
Who makes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
Johnson & Johnson is a US healthcare company and it has a Belgian pharmaceutical branch, known as Janssen, which is behind the single-dose jab.
Much of the work in developing the vaccine was carried out at Janssen’s launch facility in Leiden, the Netherlands.
Part of the research process for the vaccine was done alongside Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, an affiliate institution of Boston’s Harvard Medical School.
This vaccine uses a similar ‘viral vector’ technology to the AstraZeneca jab, meaning it harnesses a virus to act as a decoy that sneaks part of the genetic blueprint for the coronavirus into a cell in the body.
The first deliveries are expected to land on the UK’s shores later this year following the news it has been approved.
There have been reports, however, that Johnson & Johnson expects to miss its delivery targets for the European Union next month.
Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly has warned it’s “unclear” if the country will meet its target of vaccinating 82 percent of the population by the end of June as a result of the delay.
Mr Donnelly said even under a “best-case scenario”, Ireland will not receive its promised doses of the vaccine, equating to more than 600,000.
Some 470,000 doses, originally expected to arrive in June, were a key tool to the Irish government delivering on its promise.
Mr Donnelly said “about half of that” is now expected to turn up, with a worst-case scenario suggesting just 60,000 could arrive.
The delay is due to a proposed Johnson & Johnson manufacturing site in the US which is yet to be approved.
The European Union has had a number of issues with vaccination, having been accused of ‘vaccine nationalism’ on occasions.