Germany makes J&J vaccine available to all adults

Health minister expects all aged 60 and above to have a vaccine by early June

Germany has moved into top gear with its Covid-19 vaccination programme, allowing anyone who wishes to receive the one-jab Johnson & Johnson vaccine to do so.

Between now and the end of June, Berlin is expecting nearly 10 million doses of the single-dose vaccine, which until now it has prioritised for over 60s and people without a fixed address.

On Monday federal and state health authorities said a more liberal approach was justified because those expected deliveries – and another 9 million doses in the second quarter – exceed the number of older Germans left to vaccinate.

As with the AstraZeneca vaccine in many EU countries, another so-called vector vaccine, Germany's vaccination authorities recommend the Johnson & Johnson only for over-60s because of rare cases of serious blood clots.

However, younger patients can opt for the vaccine with informed consent, an approach that has already prompted a rush on doctors’ practices for the AstraZeneca jab.

With the holiday seaon fast approaching, similar queues are likely now for the Johnson & Johnson injection.

Unlike the popular mRNA vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine works on the basis of a weakened form of the common cold virus, called an adenovirus, which acts as a vehicle to deliver a single coronavirus gene into human cells.

That gene then triggers production of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which in turn sparks a reaction from the immune system to produce antibodies. The body will remember the Covid protein later if infected, and knows the antibodies to produce to destroy it.

Slow start

After a slow start Germany has now vaccinated 32.3 per cent of the population at least once, 9 per cent of the population in total, and is averaging up to one million vaccinations daily.

Germany's health minister Jens Spahn said he expected everyone aged 60 and above who wanted to be vaccinated to be offered a shot by late May or early June.

With millions of Johnson & Johnson doses due to arrive later in the second quarter of this year, it made sense to make the shot more widely available, he added. – Additional reporting, Reuters

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