The nation has long awaited the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
But the New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical giant will have only a few million doses ready by the time it is expected to receive emergency authorization from the federal government, Jeff Zientsa, President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 czar, said Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson applied for emergency use authorization earlier this month with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is scheduled to review the vaccine candidate’s clinical trial data on Feb. 26.
The U.S. could authorize the vaccine as early as the next day.
New Jersey health officials downplayed the Johnson & Johnson news at Gov. Phil Murphy’s regular coronavirus media briefing.
“I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t been counting our doses from the J&J vaccine because we really haven’t known what’s going to be available at the time that there’s likely to be an emergency use authorization,” said Dr. Eddy A. Bresnitz, a coronavirus consultant to the state Department of Health.
“I’m sure around that time, J&J will actually come out and tell us, with the government, how many doses will actually be available and when — because they haven’t said when they’re going to start to ship as well. But we never expected a lot of vaccine to begin with from J&J,” Bresnitz added.
The single-dose vaccine has been touted as a potential game-changer, as it does not require two shots like the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. It also does not require ultra-cold storage.
And amid a lagging rollout on the state and national level, the country has been awaiting the company’s vaccine to help bolster the current supply. Johnson & Johnson said in a statement earlier this month that it “expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2021.”
The company reiterated that in a statement Wednesday to NJ Advance Media.
Johnson & Johnson “intends to distribute vaccine to the U.S. government immediately following authorization, and expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2021,” the statement said. “The Company expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization.”
The Biden administration said it plans to assist Johnson & Johnson in rapidly boosting its vaccine production.
New Jersey hopes to vaccinate 70% of the state’s adult population, or 4.7 million people, in six months, Murphy said.
“I think it’s important to note that we have over a million people that have gotten their first doses. We have 2.5 million people preregistered to get in line,” said Judith Persichilli, the state health commissioner. “So if you give us vaccine, with the number of points of dispensing in New Jersey, we could easily get up to 3 1/2 million people that are vaccinated in a short period of time. If we had the vaccine.”
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Spencer Kent may be reached at email@example.com.