One day after federal regulators allowed the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, top Biden administration officials warned Sunday that supply of the new vaccine will be very uneven next month.
In an effort to reduce expectations that approval of a third Covid vaccine will mean a steady new influx of doses, officials said the company will provide 3.9 million shots this week but none the following week. The officials spoke at an organized press conference with the journalists, but they refused to reveal their names.
Officials said Johnson & Johnson will provide another 16 million doses to the federal government by the end of March, but the majority will not come until the end of the month.
In a billion-dollar contract signed last year, Johnson & Johnson pledged to deliver 37 million doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June. But the company is still trying to ramp up production at its new plant in Baltimore.
3.9 million initial doses were manufactured at its plant in the Netherlands; Officials said the remaining doses were expected to come from its Baltimore plant.
Earlier on Sunday, a panel of independent counselors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted, as expected, to recommend that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be distributed to all adults in the United States.
The committee’s approval echoed the FDA’s decision Saturday evening. Johnson & Johnson is the third Covid-19 vaccine to be licensed to Americans in less than a year. The first shipments to the states are expected by Tuesday.
The committee did not consider whether countries should prioritize the one-shot vaccine for any particular population group, or how it would be deployed compared to the other two vaccines authorized.
“This is not a decision we are prepared to take,” said Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas’ chief health official and chair of the committee.
The 12th committee voted in favor of the vaccine and none against it, with one stepping down.
The committee acted with little discussion after presentations that showed the vaccine was 85 percent protective against severe Covid-19 disease across all clinical trial sites and provided full protection against hospitalization and deaths.
Experts have indicated that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be easier to distribute than the other two vaccines that Moderna and Pfizer make with its German partner, BioNTech. It only requires one shot instead of two and can be stored in regular fridges instead of freezers. Health professionals note that it may be particularly suitable for remote areas and clinics as well as mass vaccination sites.
The panel weighed these benefits against the somewhat lower efficacy rate of the shot in clinical trials. Both Pfizer and Moderna shots were shown to be nearly 95% preventive of asymptomatic COVID-19, while Johnson & Johnson was 72% effective against moderate to severe disease in US trial sites.
Direct comparisons between vaccines are problematic, because the trials were conducted in different locations at different times. For example, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested before new worrisome strains of the virus emerged in Britain, South Africa and elsewhere.
Board , Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, See a recent survey showing that, given the choice between a two-dose vaccine as effective as Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose as effective as Johnson & Johnson, only 7 percent of participants chose Johnson & Johnson. And 21 per cent said they would take either.
Most importantly, though, of the 58 percent of respondents who said they would prefer a vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna, nearly half said they would take a vaccine like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rather than waiting a month to get one of the other two vaccines. .
The committee met nearly one year after the first Covid-19 related death in the United States. The committee is expected to meet again on Monday and discuss all three vaccines, including how best to spread them among different populations.