Rollout begins for newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator said Monday that doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine will be delivered as early as Tuesday.
“Starting yesterday, we began executing on our plans by distributing 3.9 million doses of [the vaccine] to states, tribes, and territories, and also to pharmacies and community health centers,” Jeff Zients said during a White House briefing.
The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the vaccine on Saturday following a unanimous vote from an FDA advisory panel to recommend the shot.
Additionally, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also recommended its use in a 12-0 vote on Sunday, with one recusal. CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, signed the recommendation and said it marked “another milestone toward an end to the pandemic.”
Zients said the “entirety of Johnson & Johnson’s current inventory” is being distributed.
“We’re getting these doses out the door right away to ensure vaccines get into arms as quickly as possible,” he said.
According to Zients, Johnson & Johnson has said that its supply will be limited for the next couple of weeks, following the initial distribution of available doses. Johnson & Johnson expects to deliver an additional 16 million doses by the end of March, he said.
Zients said distribution and delivery will be uneven during the beginning of the month and that the company expects most of the doses to be delivered in the latter half of March.
“We’re focused on execution, and that includes the important work of ensuring that we can continue to increase overall vaccine supply, increase the number of vaccinators, and increase the number of places Americans can go to get vaccinated,” Zients said
A Johnson & Johnson executive said last week that the company still expects to be able to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which use messenger RNA technology, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a human adenovirus that has been modified to no longer replicate in humans and cause disease.
“The ultimate endgame is that both of the vaccines ultimately result in a spike protein in the right confirmation that gives the body the opportunity to feel that this is the actual virus that it’s seeing,” Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the briefing.
Currently, the 7-day average for vaccine distribution is 1.7 million doses administered per day, Zients said. However, the first few days of this 7-day average were impacted by winter weather around the country. Therefore, the figure is an underestimate, he said.
“Over the weekend, we experienced new daily records of vaccinations,” Zients said. “That said, we have much more work to do on all fronts in our war on this pandemic.”