U.S. Sees ‘Few Million’ Doses Once J&J Vaccine Arrives

The U.S. government expects to initially receive only a “few million” doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine if it is authorized -- well short of what was initially promised -- and is working with the company to prepare to scale up production, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.

Zients said the administration is planning for possible authorization of the vaccine -- which requires one dose -- and the contract would be for delivery of 100 million doses by the end of June. Those deliveries would be “back-end loaded,” he said.

“We’ve learned that there is not a big inventory of Johnson & Johnson. There’s a few million doses that we’ll start with,” Zients said during a press briefing. “We’re doing everything we can, working with the company, to accelerate the delivery schedule.”

In its initial contract with the previous administration, J&J agreed to supply 12 million doses by the end of February, including two million it planned to deliver in January. The company says it will ship some doses upon authorization but declined to specify how many.

J&J “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,” it said in a written statement.

A Government Accountability Office report published last month said J&J would deliver about two million doses of the vaccine if it receives an emergency-use authorization. The previous administration had said it was working with the company to speed up shipments.

Food and Drug Administration officials are examining J&J’s trial data, and the agency has scheduled a Feb. 26 meeting at which outside advisers will consider the request for authorization. That could follow as soon as days after the meeting.

The Biden administration has ordered enough doses from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. to vaccinate 300 million people, and says it expects to receive those by the end of July. The J&J doses, if authorized and delivered on time, would add another 100 million doses by the end of June. Administering the shots would take longer.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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