U.S. states face steep decline in J&J vaccine
Vials labeled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” and syringe can be seen in front of the displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration dated February 9, 2021.
Given Ruvic | Reuters
Johnson & Johnson is reducing shipments of its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine next week by 86% as it grapples with manufacturing issues at a large Baltimore facility.
The government allocated just 700,000 J&J shots to the states next week, up from 4.9 million the week before. This is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
J&J is awaiting regulatory approval for a facility in Baltimore operated by Emergent BioSolutions Inc and is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain approval.
Workers at the Baltimore plant mixed the ingredients for the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines a few weeks ago, resulting in around 15 million J&J doses being ruined. The Biden administration hired J&J to manufacture vaccines at the factory and stopped producing the AstraZeneca vaccine there.
Once approved, J&J could dispense up to eight million doses a week, White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said during a news conference on Friday. And the company remains on track to deliver 100 million cans by the end of May.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has urged the Biden administration to increase vaccines in her state, which is grappling with the country’s worst outbreak. Michigan is expected to receive 17,500 J&J cans next week, an 88% decrease from the previous week.
The government said it will continue to assign shots based on population and has no plans to increase doses to more affected states as it cannot predict where infections might rise next.
“There are tens of millions of people across the country in every state and county who have not yet been vaccinated,” Zients said Friday. “And the fair and just way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe and territory. That is how it was done, and we will continue to do it.”
“The virus is unpredictable. We don’t know where the next surge in cases might be,” he added.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday that the state will only receive 34,900 doses, an 88% decrease from the previous week.
“As has been the case since our vaccination efforts began, the X-Factor is supply, supply, supply, and like any other state, our Johnson & Johnson dose allocation will be significantly lower next week,” said Cuomo.
In California, the J&J grant will decrease from 572,700 to 67,600. Florida from 313,200 to 37,000; and Texas from 392,100 to 46,300.
Some states have also temporarily suspended J&J vaccinations in certain facilities after people suffered side effects. The Georgia Department of Health stopped all recordings in one location after reactions occurred in eight people, and other locations in North Carolina and Colorado also stopped giving doses due to reactions.
However, according to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC has found no safety issues or cause for concern regarding the J&J doses. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also said there was “nothing to worry about.”
“After reviewing each patient’s symptoms, analyzing other vaccinations from the same vaccine lot, and speaking with the CDC to confirm our results, we are confident that there is no cause for concern,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer of the department’s officer, said in a statement.
The J&J vaccine was the third vaccine approved in the United States, after vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. According to CDC data, the company shipped nearly 15 million cans in the US on Friday night.
The US delivers an average of 7 million vaccine doses per day over a seven-day period. One in five Americans is now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
The rate of new Covid cases and deaths in the US has fallen dramatically since the winter summit, when hundreds of thousands of new infections and thousands of deaths were reported daily.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, the 7-day average of new cases in the US was 67,000 on Saturday. This is comparable to the upswing that hit the nation last summer. The US reports an average of 982 deaths daily.
New infections are increasing in 23 states as the more infectious variant first identified in Great Britain has become the dominant strain. US President Joe Biden has urged states to grant vaccine appointments to all adults by April 19 as the nation struggles to immunize as many people as possible, people as good as the virus mutates.