South African study suggests J&J booster may lower hospitalizations from Omicron variant

A study in Cape Town showed that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shot lowered the rate of hospitalization from the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, showed the vaccine booster was 85 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and severe illness in healthcare workers who had received the shot as the omicron variant spread rapidly in South Africa in recent weeks.

The study was based on 69,092 healthcare workers who received the second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine between November 15 and December 20, when omicron was dominant.

The study showed an increase in vaccine effectiveness after the booster shot was administered. Average effectiveness against hospitalization and severe illness went up from 63 percent just after the shot was given to 85 percent two weeks after.

“It reassures us that Covid-19 vaccines continue to be effective for the purpose they were designed, which is to protect people against severe disease and death,” Linda-Gail Bekker, the study’s co-lead investigator, told CNBC. “This is yet another piece of evidence that we have not lost that impact even in the face of a very mutated variant.”

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