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J&J (JNJ) Reports Positive Interim Data on COVID Booster Jab

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) announced encouraging interim data from two phase I/IIa studies evaluating booster dose of its adenovirus-based, single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in previously vaccinated people with its own dose. Data showed that inoculation with a booster significantly increased binding antibody response.

The administration of a booster dose in previously vaccinated people generated nine-fold higher spike-binding antibodies compared with the antibodies level 28 days following the initial vaccine dose. The rapid and robust increase in spike-binding antibodies was observed in patients aged 18-55 years as well as 65 years and older. We note that patients aged 65 years or older were given lower dose of the booster compared to the dose administered in the age group of 18-55 years.

The company stated that the initial single-shot of its COVID-19 vaccine generated a strong and robust immune response in individuals that are durable and persistent through eight months. The encouraging interim data from the booster-dose studies implies a longer protection against the deadly virus amid rising risk of various strains, especially the Delta variant.

Please note that J&J is offering its vaccine shot on a not-for-profit basis.

This year so far, J&J’s shares have risen 10.7% compared with an increase of 17.3% for the industry.

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The aforementioned encouraging interim data from booster studies comes at a time when U.S. health officials are raising support for a booster dose to halt rising COVID-19 infection cases. Please note that the infection cases have started to rise rapidly since June-end after a steady decrease in the first half of 2021.

J&J in COVID-19 Race

An additional (third) dose of two mRNA-based vaccines, Moderna’s (MRNA - Free Report) mRNA-1273 and Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) /BioNTech’s (BNTX - Free Report) Comirnaty were authorized for emergency use in immunocompromised individuals who had been vaccinated earlier this month. However, J&J failed to secure such regulatory status due to the unavailability of sufficient data on its vaccine.

The durability of effectiveness of a single-shot of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging interim data on booster dose are likely to close the gap of data availability between this vaccine and the leading two mRNA-based vaccines. Regulatory authorities around the world are likely to wait for final data from J&J’s booster-studies before granting any authorization to its booster vaccine. We expect J&J to report final data from the booster studies soon. J&J may start advanced-stage studies on the booster dose of the vaccine as well.

Competition Intensifying

Pfizer is leading the COVID-19 vaccine race after gaining the first full approval for any such vaccine anywhere in the world earlier this week. The company initiated rolling submission of a supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) to the FDA seeking approval for a booster dose this week. Data from a phase III study evaluating the booster dose demonstrated 3.3-times higher SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing titers against the wild-type strain one-month post-dose, compared to one-month after the initial two-dose vaccine regimen. Moderna completed submission of a BLA seeking full approval for mRNA-1273 this week and has requested for priority review. The durability of J&J’s single-shot vaccine and interim booster study data will likely bring the company on par with other COVID-19 vaccine marketers going forward.

Zacks Rank

J&J currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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