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US experts recommend a booster for J&J vaccines in face of Delta variant spreading

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Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2021. 5:48 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: A Reuters reports on Yahoo News said that United States infectious disease experts are recommending that people vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccines should take a Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna booster shot as the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant spreads.

Some have even taken the booster themselves even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not recommended boosters.

There is also no published data that says combining two different vaccines is safe and effective nor does it have the backing from U.S. health regulators.

On the other hand, Canada and some European countries are already allowing people to get two different COVID-19 shots.

The concern arose because the J&J vaccine was only 66% effective when it was tested while the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, had efficacy rates around 95% in large US trials.

The fear is that the J&J shot might not be able to defend against the Delta variant which was first detected in India and has now spread to many countries. Delta had been associated with more severe COVID-19 and could become the dominant variant in the United States.

“There’s no doubt that the people who receive the J&J vaccine are less protected against disease,” said Stanford professor Dr. Michael Lin.

J&J said it is testing its vaccine to see if it is capable of neutralizing the Delta variant, but no data is available yet.

But not all experts agree on taking a booster.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is doing a trial to find out if boosting all currently authorized shots with another dose of Moderna’s vaccine is to be recommended.

NIAID scientist Dr. John Beigel told Reuters they should have a response by September but advised that in the meantime J&J vaccine recipients should wait for more data.

Beigel said that if infections and hospitalizations increase significantly due to a spread of the Delta variant, then they might have to make a decision without having data with regards to taking boosters, but in the meantime, it’s best to wait.

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