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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Data collected by the National Institutes of Health show that people who received a shot of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine have a stronger neutralizing antibody response if they receive an mRNA shot instead of a second J&J one, according to a person who has seen the data.

Yes, but: J&J has asked the FDA to authorize a second shot of its own vaccine, which could make any attempt to authorize mix-and-matching vaccines confusing for the public.

State of play: An FDA advisory panel is considering booster shots for J&J recipients and some recipients of the Moderna vaccine this week.

  • On Friday, when the panel will focus on J&J, the NIH will present findings from its mix-and-match booster study, according to the draft agenda of the meeting.
  • That data is expected to show a significantly stronger neutralizing antibody response — which is a form of immune protection — to an mRNA booster than to a second dose of J&J.
  • But J&J hasn't asked the FDA to authorize mixing and matching its vaccine with another one, which could make the process messy. It's unclear how a mix-and-match authorization process would play out.

But, but, but: There are limitations to the NIH data. Neutralizing antibodies are only one form of immune protection, and it's unclear how long the response will last.

The bottom line: The most interesting part of Friday's meeting may be how the panel addresses the questions that aren't being asked by J&J — but are of significant interest to the 15 million Americans who received their shot.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

UnitedHealth thinks the worst of COVID may be over

Expand chart
Data: Company filings; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

UnitedHealth Group raised its profit projections for the rest of 2021 even though the insurer covered 60,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations during the third quarter, a number that was "meaningfully above the second quarter," executives said Thursday.

Why it matters: Health insurers expected to incur higher COVID costs in the quarter after the Delta variant ran rampant over the summer, especially in states with low vaccination rates. But UnitedHealth's COVID costs fell in line with its projections and were offset by some providers delaying care again.

12 hours ago - World

Italy begins enforcement of stringent COVID vaccine policy

A man protests against the vaccine policies in Italy on Friday. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Italy began enforcing one of the world's strictest workplace vaccination policies on Friday, risking protests and worker strikes, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The policy requires all employees — in both public and private sectors — to have a "Green Pass," which shows workers have proof of vaccination, a negative test or have recently recovered from COVID-19, per AP.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
57 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.