President Joe Biden announced the U.S. Government’s plan to buy additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
The US Department of Health and Human Services would make the purchase to ensure maximum flexibility during the pandemic time. The timing of the supply is yet to be announced.
At a White House event attended by the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck, which is collaborating to expand production of the single-dose vaccine, Biden said, “There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of this past year, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume victory is inevitable. …There’s always a chance that we’ll encounter unexpected challenges or will — there will be a new need for a vaccine effort or vaccination effort. A lot can happen. A lot can change. And we need to be prepared.”
Biden in early March had announced that his administration was on track to have enough anti-coronavirus vaccine supply for every adult in the U.S. by the end of May. Biden further arranged for Merck’s support in production of J&J vaccine and also invoked the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to safely manufacture the vaccine. He also asked the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts.
Johnson & Johnson, which received an emergency use authorization for its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from the FDA in late February, had indicated that it was likely to fall short of vaccine production guidance.
Richard Nettles, the vice president of U.S. medical affairs at J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals that develops the vaccine, recently informed lawmakers that around four million doses would be ready for shipment following an EUA, much lower than its federal commitment. However, the company still expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of June.
The US already has ordered 300 million doses each from other two approved vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna. The Government expects to ultimately help other countries with vaccine distribution if there’s more vaccine doses than required in the country.
Almost 9.8 percent of the population in the U.S., where people are now getting two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, are fully vaccinated, while nearly 19 percent received at least one vaccine dose, the CDC said.
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