Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Effective Booster for Patients Who Received Initial Dose of Single Shot Vaccine


Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine provided an increase in spike-binding antibodies as a booster shot for those who previously received the vaccine as a single-dose primary regimen, according to a company press release. Johnson & Johnson previously reported interim results from a phase 1/2a trial demonstrating the antibody responses generated by their vaccine were strong and stable through 8 months following immunization, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months. With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” said Mathai Mammen, MD, PhD, global head of Janssen research and development at Johnson & Johnson, in a press release. “We look forward to discussing with public health officials a potential strategy for our Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, boosting eight months or longer after the primary single-dose vaccination.”

Anticipating the potential need for booster shots, Johnson & Johnson initiated 2 phase 1/2a trials in individuals previously vaccinated with its single-shot vaccine. Interim data from these studies demonstrate that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generated an increase in spike-binding antibodies 9 times higher than observed 28 days after the primary single-dose vaccination. Particularly significant responses were seen in participants between 18 and 55 years of age, and in those 65 years of age and above who received a lower booster dose.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization in the United States for active immunization to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in individuals 18 years of age and older. The company is currently engaging with health authorities regarding a booster dose of the vaccine.

The ongoing phase 1/2a trial is a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that aims to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. The vaccine is administered at 2 dose levels intramuscularly, either as a single dose or on a 2-dose schedule 8 weeks apart. The sub-study currently reporting results uses cohort 1b of the ongoing trial, which enrolled 25 adults who are 18-55 years of age.

Data from the study suggested that 1 dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine resulted in the maturation of B cell response without further booster shots. Mature B cells produce antibodies that help to fight SARS-CoV-2. In combination with the T cell responses, these dual mechanisms of protection were capable of protecting against COVID-19, including disease caused by notable variants such as the Delta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, and Kappa variants. This indicates an expansion of neutralizing antibodies over the 8 months of the study, according to the authors.

“These peer-reviewed data provide further and deeper insights into the durable humoral and cellular immune responses elicited by the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, thus offering potentially a dual mechanism of protection against COVID-19 disease, including against the Delta variant and other variants of concern,” said Mathai Mammen, MD, PhD, global head of Janssen Research & Development, in a press release. “The study showed that variant-specific neutralizing antibodies increased over the eight months examined after vaccination which suggests the maturation of B-cell responses. In addition, the T-cell responses are especially strong and stable over time, which is also potentially important for activity against these variants.”


Johnson & Johnson announces data to support boosting its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine [news release]. Johnson & Johnson; August 25, 2021. Accessed August 25, 2021.

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