Experts believe it's not the best choice in protection against omicron.
If you are one of the 16 million Americans who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you might want to sit down for this one (preferably at a CVS while you’re waiting to get a booster). According to a recent, very preliminary study, the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine — along with Sinopharm, and Sputnik V (China’s and Russia’s COVID vaccines, respectively) appear to offer very little protection against the Omicron variant.
Before you panic, please know that it is way too early in the game to come to any solid conclusions about how deadly this variant is and how exactly the vaccines in general work against it. Also, study that has not yet been peer-reviewed. It was conducted by Vir Biotechnology, the University of Washington and others in a relatively short amount of time, considering that the variant was just discovered last month.
But, the belief so far is that because of Omicron’s myriad mutations, antibodies from our vaccines and even previous infections no longer have the same ability to neutralize the virus, the study asserts. Researchers noted that “only 6 out of a panel of 44 neutralizing mAbs retained potent neutralizing activity against Omicron,” which is science speak for yaaass antibodies, give us nothing.
That said, the results aren’t exactly comforting if J&J was your choice of vaccine. Besides potentially not being that effective against Omicron, the FDA also recommended against J&J this week because of very rare cases of blood clots, per the Times. For those of ya’ll who got J&J, I’m genuinely sorry for making fun of you earlier this year; you’ve had enough punishment.
Thankfully, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer do appear to retain some of their strength against this spawn of satan variant, but some scientists predict that none of our vaccines are as great a warrior against Omicron as they were against any of the previous COVID strains. In fact, another study found that while the Moderna jab was up to significantly less effective against Omicron, a Moderna booster did create enough antibodies to prevent infection in some people. When it comes to preventing hospitalization and death, though, these vaccines still stack up, according to recent findings.
The other bad news is that the University of Washington study also found that antibody therapies that seemed promising just a few months ago are proving less effective against Omicron. Regeneron and Eli Lilly lost their power against this variant, but GlaxoSmithKline and sotrovimab still worked well, per Reuters.
Overall, the study confirmed that Omicron is truly a shamelessly satanic variant, but considering how much of the world remains unvaccinated, something like this was sort of inevitable. Hopefully, future research will confirm that it’s more cold-like (and nothing more) than previous variants.
It is worth remembering that data so far suggests that Omicron might not be leading to as much severe disease and hospitalization as Delta once was. What all of this does means, though, is that vaccines like J&J will no longer be one of our main tools for fighting this pandemic.