White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine should have been two doses after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel recommended booster doses for the vaccine when it becomes available.
“This should have been a two-dose vaccine to begin with,” Fauci told ABC News on Oct. 17. “I think it’s very favorable for those who have received the J&J vaccine. I don’t see that as a problem at all.”
However, Fauci then acknowledged that some Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients should get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as their booster. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses adenovirus vector technology, while Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses, both use mRNA technology
“You know, that is true, the data you refer to that if you [get the booster], people who have originally received J&J with either Moderna or Pfizer, the level of antibodies that you induce in them is much higher than if you boost them with the original J&J,” he said.
Fauci then said that younger males “might want to take the J&J route” for boosters and vaccines, noting that there’s a “rare risk of getting myocarditis.”
“For example, a woman of childbearing age who would have almost no issues at all with a possible adverse event of myocarditis—which you see, rarely … with the mRNA vaccine—that person might want to opt for that approach,” he said.
On Oct. 15, the FDA advisory panel recommended that all people aged 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get a booster dose of the vaccine if the FDA accepts it.
“We want to provide optimal protection against COVID, and we know that a booster dose will do that,” Dr. Penny Heaton, global therapeutic area head for vaccines at J&J’s Janssen Research & Development, told the panel during their virtual hearing.
Panel members who voted in favor of the recommendation said that their vote was designed to bolster confidence in the vaccine.
“The overall perspective is that regardless of whether or not there’s been waning … the effectiveness or protection with a single dose of the J&J is not equivalent at this time with two doses of an mRNA vaccine and certainly not three doses,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, the chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.