Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Booster, Administered Six Months After Two-Dose Regimen of BNT162b2, Shows Substantial Increase in Antibody and T-cell Responses

Preliminary Phase 2 study and a sub-study demonstrate value of mix-and-match approach; Johnson & Johnson booster increased neutralizing and binding antibodies, similar to boosting with BNT162b2, and showed strong increase in T-cell responses

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ, USA I December 5, 2021 I Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) (the Company) today announced preliminary results from an independent study, including a subset of participants from the Janssen-sponsored COV2008 study, conducted by Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., et al. of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), which showed that a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S), administered at six months after a two-dose primary regimen of BNT162b2, increased both antibody and T-cell responses. These results demonstrate the potential benefits of heterologous boosting (mix-and-match). The article describing these results have been posted on medRxiv.

“There is early evidence to suggest that a mix-and-match boosting approach may provide individuals with different immune responses against COVID-19 than a homologous boosting approach,” said Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. “In this preliminary study, when a booster dose of Ad26.COV2.S was given to individuals six months after a primary regimen with the BNT162b2 vaccine, there was a comparable increase of antibody responses at week four following the boost and a greater increase of CD8+ T-cell responses with Ad26.COV2.S compared with BNT162b2.”

“These results provide valuable scientific insights for our vaccine when used as a mix-and-match booster and can help inform boosting strategies with the goal to curb the pandemic,” said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. “These data add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that a mix-and-match booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine successfully increases humoral responses and cellular responses against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, as well as the Beta and Delta variants.”

These Phase 2 data are reinforced by preliminary results from the UK COV-BOOST clinical study published in The Lancet, which demonstrated that following primary vaccination with two doses of either BNT162b2 (n=106) or ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (n=108), a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine increased both antibody and T-cell responses.

Cellular (T-Cell) Responses
In this preliminary study, boosting with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a primary vaccine regimen of BNT162b2 appears to lead to a greater increase in CD8+ T-cell responses than boosting with BNT162b2. These T-cell response data suggest differences between immune responses following homologous boosting with BNT162b2, and mix-and-match boosting with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following a primary regimen of BNT162b2.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine leverages Janssen’s AdVac® technology and cell-mediated immunity, including CD4+ and CD8+ responses. T-cells can target and destroy cells infected by the virus that causes COVID-19. Specifically, CD8+ T-cells can directly destroy infected cells and are aided by CD4+ T-cells.

Humoral (Antibody) Responses
Both the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and BNT162b2 as boosters led to similar neutralizing and binding antibody levels against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, as well as the Delta and Beta variants, four weeks following the boost. However, after a mix-and-match booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, antibodies continued to increase for at least four weeks whereas in individuals who received a homologous boost with the BNT162b2 vaccine, antibodies declined from week two to week four post-boost.

Neutralizing antibodies are capable of binding to the virus in a way that blocks infection and confines the virus to the upper respiratory tract. Binding antibodies can bind to the virus’ spike protein and inactivate the virus through non-neutralizing antiviral functionalities.

Study Design
For this study, a specimen biorepository at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) obtained samples from individuals who received the BNT162b2 vaccine. Participants either continued follow-up in the biorepository and were boosted with 30 ug BNT162b2 (n=24) or were enrolled in the COV2008 study (NCT04999111) and were boosted with 5, 2.5, or 1x1010 vp of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (n=41). The COV2008 study is a Johnson & Johnson sponsored, ongoing, blinded Phase 2 clinical trial (VAC31518COV2008) to evaluate its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in adults 18 years of age and older.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for all eligible individuals aged 18 years and older who receive an authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson continues to submit relevant data to other regulators, the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) worldwide to inform decision-making on local vaccine administration strategies, as needed.

In collaboration with academic groups in South Africa and around the world, the Company has been evaluating the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine across variants, now including the new and rapidly spreading Omicron variant. In addition, the Company is pursuing an Omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed.

For more information on the Company’s multi-pronged approach to helping combat the pandemic, visit: www.jnj.com/covid-19.

Authorized Use
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, also referred to as the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, is authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for active immunization to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

  • Primary vaccination regimen for the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is a single-dose (0.5 mL) administered to individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • A single Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose (0.5 mL) may be administered at least 2 months after the primary vaccination to individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • A single booster dose of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (0.5 mL) may be administered to individuals 18 years of age and older as a heterologous booster dose following completion of primary vaccination with another authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. The dosing interval for the heterologous booster dose is the same as that authorized for a booster dose of the vaccine used for primary vaccination.

Please read Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) including full EUA Prescribing Information available at:www.JanssenCOVID19Vaccine.com/EUA-factsheet.

About Johnson & Johnson
At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity. Learn more at www.jnj.com. Follow us at @JNJNews.

About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
At Janssen, we're creating a future where disease is a thing of the past. We're the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, working tirelessly to make that future a reality for patients everywhere by fighting sickness with science, improving access with ingenuity, and healing hopelessness with heart. We focus on areas of medicine where we can make the biggest difference: Cardiovascular & Metabolism, Immunology, Infectious Diseases & Vaccines, Neuroscience, Oncology, and Pulmonary Hypertension. Learn more at www.janssen.com. Follow us at @JanssenGlobal.

SOURCE: Johnson & Johnson

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