The Johnson & Johnson booster is suddenly looking more promising

It offers protection against severe illness from omicron, according to new research.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2021/04/25: An Army nurse fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johns...
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The Pandemic

Omicron’s potential to infiltrate the immune systems of even the vaxxed and the boosted has us all biting our nails. But no one has been more nervous than those of us who began our vaccine journey with the now infamous Johnson & Johnson one-shot solution. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been plagued with problems since the jump, but it might be making a comeback. New research from South Africa suggests that two shots of Johnson & Johnson shows real promise in protecting us against the severe effects of omicron.

The study, which was conducted in South Africa in November and December 2021, compared the omicron infection rates of 69,000 health care workers who had two shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with a group of unvaccinated individuals. What researchers found was that the people who had received two doses of the J & J vaccine were 85% less likely to be hospitalized with omicron.

For context, a similar study conducted in South Africa in December found that people who had two shots of the Pfizer vaccine were 70% less likely to be hospitalized with omicron, which makes it seem like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be at least as effective against omicron as the other vaxxes. The findings of the study on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will require further study, however, as they have not yet been peer reviewed.

There are other reasons to be hopeful about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, too. Another study released Tuesday, showed that the immune cells of people who got Johnson & Johnson vaccines were able to detect omicron-infected cells almost as effectively as they detected other variants. That study was done in a lab so it’s too soon to speculate how precisely the findings will correlate to vaccine efficacy in humans, but it’s possible that the J & J booster helps the body create antibodies to omicron and could also induce other parts of the immune system to fight the virus, too, according to the New York Times.

I, for one, am really rooting for the Johnson & Johnson booster, and not just because it’s my own personal vax. About 16 million Americans, and many more millions around the world, got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so it would be real cool if it protects us against emerging variants. Plus, everyone loves an underdog.