November 30, 2023

A health care worker holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus before administering it to another as South Africa resumes its vaccination campaign at Klerksdorp Hospital on February 18, 2021.

Phill Magakoe | AFP | Getty Images

The United States stands ready to dump up to 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as next week if the Food and Drug Administration approves the emergency shot, the Biden administration’s Covid-19 Response Team said on Wednesday with.

“The governors are carefully planning their efforts and preparing for the possible new vaccine,” said Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid Tsar, at a press conference. “If authorized, we are ready to introduce this vaccine immediately.”

“If the EEA is granted, we will not waste time getting this life-saving vaccine into the arms of Americans,” he said, referring to the emergency use authorization that would allow the US to distribute the shots .

The government plans to allocate between 3 and 4 million doses of J & J’s one-time Covid vaccine next week if the FDA grants the EUA, which could be done this weekend. A senior administration official told CNBC Tuesday that states will receive 2 million doses if approved.

Zients said the remaining allocations will mainly go to retail chain pharmacies and community health centers that receive doses directly from the federal government along with the states.

J&J intends to ship 20 million cans by the end of March, Zients said, and the administration is working with the company “to accelerate the pace and timeframe for the full 100 million cans to be dispensed by the end of June”.

On Wednesday before, FDA officials had approved J & J’s vaccine for emergency use. The employee report is designed to brief the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Panel, which will meet on Friday to review J & J’s application for emergency approval.

If approved, the shot would be the third vaccine approved in the US after Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Federal and state health officials expected an increase in the country’s vaccine supply if J & J’s shot were to be approved, but senior health officials have learned in recent weeks that the company will not have a “large inventory”.

“I’m a little disappointed that the number of doses we’re getting early on from J&J is relatively small, but there will be more and more as the spring progresses,” said White House Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week.

The Biden government has gradually increased the number of doses it allocates to states per week. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. will now provide states with 14.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine per week, up from 8.6 million when Biden took office.

Zients said during the briefing on Wednesday that the government had also caught up a backlog of 6 million Covid-19 vaccines, which was delayed last week after massive winter storms in the Midwest and Texas caused bottlenecks in their delivery channels.

The U.S. has dispensed more than 82 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to date, and given just over 65 million of them, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.