WHO gives approval for Johnson & Johnson single dose Covid vaccine - what it means for UK

The WHO has given approval for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use (Photo: Shutterstock)
The WHO has given approval for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use (Photo: Shutterstock)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given approval for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) for emergency use in all countries.

The decision comes following the authorisation of the vaccine in the EU, with drugs regulator the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommending it for all adults.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the fourth to be endorsed for use in the EU, after those from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

First single dose jab

The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is the first to be listed by the WHO as a single dose jab, and it is hoped that only having one dose will help to speed up vaccination in poorer countries.

Results from large clinical trials shared by the pharmaceutical company also shows that the vaccine is effective in older populations.

The vaccine’s effectiveness varied in different countries, with 72 per cent efficacy in the United States, 66 per cent in Latin America, and 57 per cent in South Africa.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the vaccine was 85 per cent effective overall in stopping severe cases of Covid-19.

The vaccine needs to be stored at -20 degrees, but it can be kept for three months at 2-8 degrees, and has a shelf life of two years.

Johnson & Johnson also said it worked across multiple variants of coronavirus, including some effectiveness against the South African variant.

It added that most side effects from the vaccine were usually mild or moderate and stopped within a couple of days. The most common symptoms included pain at the injection site, tiredness, muscle pain, headache and nausea.

The WHO is continuing to work with countries and COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) partners around the world to prepare for rollout and safe monitoring, and the COVAX Facility has booked 500 millions doses of the vaccine.

When will the UK get the vaccine?

Following approval for use in the EU, 200 million doses have been ordered, although it is unclear when they will be delivered.

America, Canada and Bahrain have also approved the jab, while South Africa is doing an expedited review.

In the UK, the vaccine is still pending approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), but 30 million doses of the jab have already been ordered, with the option of millions more.