Although Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines nearly a month ago for emergency use, the shots across the country are unused. But why?
According to Politico, about 2.3 million of the 4.3 million Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines distributed to states have been used.
Biden officials had warned that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine rollout would be rocky initially as there was a limited supply.
Furthermore, they are not confident that Johnson & Johnson will meet its self-imposed deadline to deliver 20 million vaccines by the end of March, despite optimistic statements from the company.
Some states are assumed to be intentionally holding back vaccines. Two senior Biden administration officials believe states are conserving their supplies of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines until there’s sufficient to reach underserved communities and specific populations.
However, multiple state health officials say they’re using any vaccine they get as soon as they get it.
According to Marcus Plescia, MD, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, it may be a little bit slower rollout because everybody is trying to decide how to best use this particular vaccine.
To reach its goal the company must have another 14.8 million ready next week
As the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation last spring, the U.S. government signed a $450 million deal with Johnson & Johnson for vaccine research and development. In August, the federal government stated it would pay the firm another $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential COVID vaccine, months before the firm would win authorization from the FDA. Johnson & Johnson was scheduled to have 37 million doses ready by the end of the month and 100 million by the end of June. The firm is now facing a risk of not meeting the 20 million mark by the end of this month.
However, at he end of the last month, when Johnson & Johnson was authorized by the FDA, it only had four million doses ready to ship. An additional 1.2 million doses have gone out since, suggesting the company must have another 14.8 million ready in the following week to reach its goal.
Biden administration officials announced they expect the distribution to improve by the end of March when more Johnson & Johnson vaccines become available.
Notably, the Johnson & Johnson product has multiple advantages over the other two because it’s one dose instead of two and lasts in a refrigerator for three months instead of being frozen.