An advisory committee will be meeting on Friday to review Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine data. The committee will vote whether or not the vaccine should receive emergency use authorization in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration will have to give the final approval before the vaccine can be distributed. But, should all go as planned and the vaccine receives final approval by the FDA, J&J could ship out vaccine supplies as early as next week.
According to Johnson & Johnson, their single-dose vaccine provides a strong defense of protection against a severe course of the COVID-19 virus.
Johnson & Johnson has up to 4 million doses of vaccine ready for shipment as soon as Monday. President Joe Biden’s COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients, promised that the administration would get the vaccine out “without delay” and expects to allocate between three and four million doses of the vaccine.
Zients said, “The governors are carefully planning their efforts and are getting ready for the possible new vaccine. If the EUA is granted, we will waste no time getting this lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans.”
An Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA could happen as soon as the coming weekend. Two million doses would be distributed to states, and the remaining vaccines would go to health centers and pharmacies.
Zients also shared that J&J plans to distribute 20 million of its vaccine doses before April. He added that the administration is working with J&J to speed up the delivery of the full 100 million doses it expects to distribute before the final day of June.
On Wednesday, FDA staff already endorsed the vaccine for emergency use. But the staff endorsement is simply a way to brief the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the body of officials meeting on Friday to review the request.
Should it be cleared and approved for emergency use, J&J’s vaccine would be the third vaccine in the United States to receive authorization for COVID19. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have already received FDA clearances and have already begun distributions.
Initially, state and federal health officials expected a larger boost of J&J’s vaccine but have recently learned their inventory is not as big as hoped for.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor, weighed in by stating, “I’m a little disappointed that the number of doses that we’re going to get early on from J&J are relatively small, but as we get further into the spring, there will be more and more.”
Each week, President Biden has been gradually increasing the number of vaccine doses the government allocates to each state. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the government would supply 14.5 million doses of the vaccine each week to be distributed between the states.
Zients also acknowledged that the government has had to play catch up on vaccines that were delayed because of the winter storms that plagued the Midwest and Texas last week.
Thus far, the U.S. has administered over 65 million of the 82 million COVID-19 doses it has delivered.