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Sputnik-Janssen Debate: Why Don’t Virologists Recommend Them?

Hungary Today 2021.11.22.

Although the Hungarian authorities do not recommend it, both the head of the Prime Minister’s office and the government’s No. 1 pandemic advisor, the rector of Semmelweis University, decided to have a Janssen vaccine administered after two Russian vaccines. This decision is strange since even the government’s COVID information website, koronavirus.gov.hu, does not list Janssen as the recommended third dose for people previously vaccinated with Sputnik. Virologist Ferenc Jakab is also emphasizing this point.

This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Júlia Tar.

I would like to emphasize once again: anyone who has received two vector vaccines, two Sputnik or two AstraZeneca, should not ask for Janssen, nor should they ask for a third vector vaccine,”

said virologist Ferenc Jakab, regarding the Sputnik-Sputnik-Janssen debate on Radio Kossuth’s morning show on Thursday morning.

The Sputnik-Janssen vaccine mix returned to the spotlight after Béla Merkely, the rector of Semmelweis University and a cardiologist by profession, announced Wednesday morning that he had chosen the Janssen vaccine after the two Russian vaccines, which is also produced using vector vaccine technology, as did Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s office. However, an earlier recommendation by the National Public Health Center (NNK) did not suggest this vaccine combination.

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An important consideration is that those who have received Sputnik as a first and second vaccine cannot travel to many countries, even if they receive Pfizer or Moderna as a third vaccine. Janssen is the only single-dose vaccine that offers a travel solution.

Fact

Booster vaccinations – the National Center for Public Health recommends these combinations:

  • AstraZeneca (vector vaccine): Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca.
  • Janssen (vector vaccine): Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, Janssen
  • Moderna (mRNA): Sinopharm, Janssen, AstraZeneca, Moderna
  • Pfizer (mRNA): Sinopharm, Janssen, AstraZeneca, Pfizer
  • Sinopharm (inactivated): Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Sinopharm
  • Sputnik V (vector vaccine): Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sputnik

Virologist Miklós Rusvai says Janssen certainly won’t do any harm after the Russian vaccine, but since it’s an adenovirus-based vaccine, like Sputnik, those vaccinated with the Russian vaccine could experience a 5-10% loss of efficacy.

Semmelweis University issued a statement on the subject after Professor Merkely also took the Janssen vaccine after two Sputniks:

The University’s position is that in the current situation, the most important thing is for everyone to receive the first, second, and third vaccinations.”

The declaration refers to international recommendations:

“Based on available international data and recommendations, a vector-based vaccine containing the same adenovirus may be administered. This is supported by the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved repeated doses of the Janssen vaccine, for example, or that three consecutive vector-based vaccinations with Astra Zeneca have been approved in England, as well as the third vaccination with Sputnik in Russia.”

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Ferenc Jakab, head of the Szentágothai-János Research Center, National Laboratory of Virology, University of Pécs, spoke on Thursday morning on Radio Kossuth’s morning show. The professor acknowledged that there is no evidence that the combination is not effective, but our current knowledge is that our immune systems are starting to defend against the vector virus as well, and the effectiveness of the third vaccine may therefore be reduced. He added that for young people, it is even better to ask for Sinopharm’s Chinese vaccine as the third dose.

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Featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI