Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is working well in South Africa, offering protection against severe disease and death, the head of a trial in the country said on Friday.

The J&J vaccine was administered to healthcare workers from mid-February in a research study, which was completed in May, with 477 234 health workers vaccinated, joint lead investigator on the trial Glenda Gray told a media briefing.

South Africa’s health regulator approved the J&J shot in April, and it is being used in the national vaccine programme alongside Pfizer’s.

Gray said the single-shot J&J vaccine offered 91% to 96.2% protection against death, while offering 67% efficacy when the Beta coronavirus variant dominates and about 71% when the Delta variant dominates.

“Consistently after receiving the vaccine, there was very little death occurring in the vaccinated group as compared to the control group and showing a remarkable up to 96.2% protection against death,” Gray said. “This was our primary endpoint and we are able to say this vaccine protected health workers against death.”  — Reported by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, (c) 2021 Reuters