Johnson & Johnson expects not to meet its commitment to administer 10 million doses of itsby the end of February, with less than 4 million ready to ship following an expected emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Johnson & Johnson’s disclosure of the deficit is the first public measure of exactly how far the drug company has fallen behind on its production targets. Johnson & Johnson promised to deliver another $ 25 million at the end of March.
“We will have 20 million doses of the vaccine available by the end of March and we are prepared to ship, immediately after authorization for emergency use, nearly 4 million doses of our vaccine,” Dr. Richard Nettles, Johnson & Johnson Vice President medical affairs officer at the Janssen subsidiary, he said Tuesday at a House Commerce and Energy Committee hearing.
He said the company remains “confident in our plans to deliver 100 million” doses by the end of June.
As a single-dose vaccine that can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for three months, the Johnson & Johnson candidate had been heralded as a key advancement in the US vaccination effort. Despite its slightly lower efficacy, in compared to the two-dose vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
“It’s a very easy vaccine to ship and administer; it doesn’t have all these complicated requirements, particularly like Pfizer, which is a much more delicate vaccine. One dose, you get it, that’s it. This is the vaccine I want,” said the Dr. Marcus Plescia, Medical Director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
While the vaccine is logistically simpler, states could face hurdles deciding which sites should be prioritized for the strongest doses or how to handle residents hoping to get one vaccine over another. Some of that guidance could come this weekend, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets to discuss Johnson & Johnson’s version.
“I think there is a feeling in many jurisdictions that it would be great if this vaccine came with very specific recommendations on who should get it and how to use it,” Plescia said.
States also don’t know how many doses of Johnson & Johnson to wait. The Biden administration anticipates being able to allocate 2 million doses next week to jurisdictions.
Both Johnson & Johnson and federal officials have acknowledged for weeks that the company faced obstacles.in the US, leading the administration to .
Last year, states received specific allocations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines weeks before FDA clearance.
“We are planning to be ready when the USA is approved. It is not about putting ourselves in front of the USA, it is just about making sure that we have everything blocked so that when the US decision comes, distribution to the Americans is immediate within 24 hours. hours, “General said. Gus Perna, head of the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution effort, told reporters last year.
By comparison, prior to this week, officials in the Biden administration had refused to provide a specific number of doses they expected from Johnson & Johnson, let alone the allocations states should expect. When asked if some of the doses would be reserved for pharmacies or other federal programs, the administration said Monday that it is waiting to finalize its strategy after the FDA and CDC intervene.
“Once we understand what the scientific community has to say, we will be in a position to answer, I think, the very relevant questions on which we need the advice of scientists,” said White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt.