8 Jul 2021

Janssen vaccine: 'Slim' chance of New Zealand getting supply before end of 2021

4:58 pm on 8 July 2021

The Janssen vaccine, which was provisionally approved by Medsafe yesterday, is not looking likely to have supply here this year, the Immunisation Advisory Centre says.

Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) Director, Nikki Turner receiving her COVID-19 vaccination

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner receiving a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The advisory centre's director, Nikki Turner, told Morning Report the vaccine's advantage was that it only required a single dose, although it was not known how long its effects would last.

"It's acting very similar to other high-performing vaccines internationally, particularly probably more so against severe disease, which is the major output."

The Janssen vaccine could also "prevent transmission to some degree", she said.

Another advantage was that it could be stored in fridges for up to two years, as opposed to the storage requirements of Pfizer.

However, Turner said the country is not likely to access the vaccine any time soon due to a world shortage, and also considering there was already supply available of another vaccine.

"There's a world shortage of this vaccine, we can't just go and get it immediately.

"My understanding from the international supply, the chance of getting it in before the end of the year is very slim.

"You can imagine that most countries in the world at the moment are desperately trying to access extra vaccine supplies."

She said it was good to have another option on the cards, especially for the small number of people who may have severe allergic reactions to Pfizer.

"We have now got good supplies of the Pfizer vaccine coming through. We're familiar with the Pfizer vaccine. It's a fantastic reacting vaccine. So really, this one is a back-up."

Turner said although the Jannssen vaccine is possibly associated in rare cases of blood clotting, rare occurrences were not uncommon for all vaccines.

"The more we look, there are rare associations for all vaccines that can scare people."

On rolling out different vaccines at the same time, she said officials would need to look at the best model for a vaccination schedule.

"At this stage, the highest performing is still looking like two doses of the Pfizer, but there's really good data on mix and match models, so it is feasible in the future to consider one vaccine and then a booster from another.

"The science data is coming through very fast and looking very promising."

Cabinet will weigh up options on using the Janssen vaccine following advice from officials, with a decision expected some time in August.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs