The vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm Janssen, has been shown to be 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19, with studies suggesting it also offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death.
Announcing that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had approved the safety of the jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.
“As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”
The UK has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine, which England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has previously said could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people, where recalling them for a second jab is not always successful.
Rare blood clots
The MHRA is thought to have held back from early approval of the vaccine after concerns were raised in the US about a link to extremely rare blood clots.
The clots are similar to those seen in a very small proportion of people having the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
In April, the European Medicines Agency said a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet count should be added to the product information for the vaccine.
This followed eight cases of blood clots in more than seven million people vaccinated in the US.
Johnson & Johnson has said the vaccine works across multiple variants of coronavirus.
In a clinical trial involving 43,783 people, published earlier this year, the level of protection against moderate to severe Covid-19 infection was found to be 72 per cent in the United States arm of the trial.
It was 66 per cent in the Latin American arm of the trial, and 57 per cent in the South African arm, where a mutant variant of the virus has been dominating.
The overall efficacy from these trials combined was 67 per cent.