Dec 17, 2021 - Health

Study: J&J vaccine provides little or no protection against Omicron

An elderly patient receives the Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19 during a home vaccination visit in Kazan, Tatarstan.

A patient receives the Sputnik Light vaccine during a home vaccination visit in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and China's Sinopharm, as well as the Russian-made Sputnik V, were found to provide little or no protection against the newly emerging Omicron variant, according to a study out this week.

Driving the news: The study, which was published as a preprint and isn't yet peer-reviewed, found that just three out of 13 people who were fully vaccinated with China's Sinopharm vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against Omicron.

  • One out of 12 people with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine exhibited neutralizing antibodies.
  • None of the 11 with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine revealed protection, per the study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and Swiss drugmaker Humabs Biomed SA.
  • The study also found that the best protection against Omicron appears to come from both having a prior COVID-19 infection and two doses of a Pfizer vaccine.

The big picture: The study comes as COVID cases are surging around the globe, appearing to be driven by the new variant.

  • Emerging data has found that two doses of Pfizer's vaccine are only marginally effective at preventing Omicron infection, and that booster shots are much more effective, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

The other side: Russia’s Gamaleya Center, the developer of Sputnik V, said in a statement that "the serum samples used in the study were not representative and conclusions about the vaccine’s efficacy against omicron based on them shouldn’t be made."

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Editor's note: The story has been updated with comment from the developer of Sputnik V.

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