Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine “very likely” should have been two doses, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday after a federal health advisory panel recommended that J&J vaccine recipients get a booster shot at least two months after receiving their first.
The White House chief medical adviser, speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” said that recipients of the J&J vaccine should not be concerned after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee on Friday recommended that they get booster shots.
“I think that they should feel good about it because what the advisers to the FDA felt is that, given the data that they saw, very likely this should have been a two dose vaccine to begin with,” he said.
“So I think that’s a very good thing. And I think it’s very favorable for those who have received the J&J vaccine,” he said. “I don’t see that as a problem at all.”
The advisory committee’s recommendation was not an automatic green light for the boosters, but the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to approve the recommendation as early as this week.
Fauci added that those needing a booster will likely have the option to receive one from Moderna or Pfizer instead of J&J.
On Wednesday, the National Institutes of Health released a study that found that those who received the J&J vaccine and then a Moderna or Pfizer booster had more coronavirus antibodies than someone who received two doses of the J&J vaccine.
When asked about that study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, Fauci said that the FDA and the CDC will give booster flexibility based on the recipient’s health situation, such as whether the individual is susceptible to known adverse reactions linked to mRNA vaccines, such as myocarditis (aka heart inflammation). Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are both mRNA vaccines, while the J&J vaccine is a viral vector vaccine.
“For example, a woman of child-bearing age who would have almost no issues at all with a possible adverse event of myocarditis … that person might want to opt for that approach,” he said of receiving one of the mRNA vaccines after the initial J&J shot.
“If you’re a young man who does have that very, very rare risk of getting myocarditis, you might want to take the J&J route,” Fauci continued.