The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.K. medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The single-dose vaccine, developed by healthcare company J&J’s Janssen unit, has been shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate-to-severe cases of COVID-19 in its late-stage trial.
“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 program later this year,” said health secretary Matt Hancock, in a statement on Friday.
The U.K. government said it has secured 20 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that it would be made available later this year. The government noted that the vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures, “making it ideal” for distribution to care homes and other locations.
shot is the fourth to be endorsed for use in the U.K., alongside the vaccine developed jointly by U.S. drug company Pfizer
and German biotech BioNTech
; the one made by U.K.-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca
The J&J vaccine was authorized for use in the U.S. in February and in the European Union in March.
However, in April J&J delayed the planned rollout of its vaccine across the EU, after U.S. health agencies called for an immediate pause of the shot’s use “out of an abundance of caution” as six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots following administration of the shot. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel recommended the U.S. resume use of the shot 10 days later, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.
The European Medicines Agency also said that the benefits of the J&J shot outweighed its risks, and recommended adding a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet counts to the vaccine’s product label, leading J&J to restart its European rollout on April 20.
Earlier this month, a Norwegian panel of health experts commissioned by the government recommended that Norway exclude both the COVID-19 vaccine made by J&J, as well as the one developed by AstraZeneca, from its immunization program, due to a small risk of rare but serious side effects. The government said it will use the recommendations, alongside advice from Norway’s Institute of Public Health, which has also called for both shots to be dropped from the program, as a basis for its final decision on whether to use the vaccines.