Just a few weeks ago, alarming headlines made the rounds, again. Contrary to J&J’s own major study which showed high levels of success against the Delta variant, a lone lab study seemed to indicate doubt about the efficacy of the J&J vaccine against Delta – the annoying variant, not the reputable airline.

That lone study analyzed only 10 lab samples, rather than real world cases, and only examined a singular virus indicator, rather than the numerous parts of the puzzle which indicate actual human response. That part didn’t quite grab headlines.

A new “real world” study from South Africa, of 500,000 real life people, rather than 10 lab samples paints a vastly different picture, and one that exceeds previous hopes for J&J vaccine efficacy against the Delta & Beta variants.

It’s great news for travel and a return to “normalcy”, whatever that may mean at this point.

South Africa Sees High Efficacy In One Dose Vaccine

South Africa vaccinated virtually its entire medical community with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) one dose vaccine back in February, as the Delta and Beta variants began to rise, and monitored the 500,000 healthcare workers through May.

Per the preliminary “Sisonke” study results, which were the first “real world” tests of their kind, the J&J vaccine was 95% effective against death and at least 71% effective against hospitalization or serious illness. Of the limited breakthrough covid-19 cases which occurred, 96% experienced mild or asymptomatic symptoms.

Accordingly, any boosters are not currently being recommended by the study. Studies of mRNA vaccines have typically shown an equal or better response to the variants, so the report is a welcome one, for any fully vaccinated person.

“This study was conducted as a real-world efficacy study in one of the most challenging epidemiologic settings. This is very good news for the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic.”

Dan Barouch, Virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

These figures actually exceed efficacy hopes published by Johnson & Johnson, and performed better than J&J’s own lab studies against the Delta and Beta variants. For travel, these figures can’t be understated in their significance.

Real world data which proves vaccination success against “worst outcomes” creates fuel to reboot key travel and trade links, as covid-19 moves closer in key measures to seasonal illnesses. In time, borders should open accordingly, and quarantines should disappear.

One dose vaccines are far easier to administer in rural communities and among busy, working populations than two, and renewed faith in vaccine efficacy will fuel drives to fully inoculate more people, quickly.

Increased international support for the effectiveness of the J&J vaccine and others, such as mRNA vaccines including Pfizer and BioNTech will only bolster cases to open borders and resume international tourism and trade, as a decoupling between cases and bad outcomes continues.

Bureaucracy of government often means things take longer than they should, but once study results are peer reviewed and published, logic in keeping international travel at a standstill will likely lose strength. Vaccines are doing what they’re supposed to, and will help to make the pandemic, endemic.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. Things closed. Masks everywhere. “Social distancing.”
    Show us your papers!!!
    Surreal travel continues. Give it five years before the virus in one form or another has finally infected everyone and the panic finally spins itself out.
    Five years at the very least.

Leave a comment