The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which could be a helpful tool in the fight against coronavirus, is on track for authorization for emergency use by the end of January—though there are some questions as to how quickly it can be employed in ongoing vaccination efforts.
According to CNN’s Jan. 13 report, Moncef Slaoui from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine development program, projected that millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in February. That’s provided the pharmaceutical company stays on its schedule.
“In terms of vaccine dose availability, if submission is happening at the end of January, one could project that approval of the emergency use authorization may happen somewhere in the middle of the month of February,” Slaoui said.
As the New York Times reported on Jan. 13, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will enter into circulation in February, though.
The newspaper wrote, “In the company’s $1 billion contract signed with the federal government in August, Johnson & Johnson pledged to have 12 million doses of its vaccine ready by the end of February, ramping up to a total of 100 million doses by the end of June.”
The Times added, “Federal officials have been told that the company has fallen as much as two months behind the original production schedule and won’t catch up until the end of April, when it was supposed to have delivered more than 60 million doses, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.”
Carlo de Notaristefani, lead manufacturing adviser for Operation Warp Speed, acknowledged a delay but said the company could catch up with initial production goals by March.
A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson declined to admit a delay to Politico but said the company remains “confident in our ability to meet our 2021 supply commitments.”
“We remain in active discussions with regulators, including on the approval and validation of our manufacturing processes,” the spokesperson said.
As Politico pointed out, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is seen as critical to speeding up the nation’s efforts to end the pandemic, particularly because it requires only a single dose. The shots also do not need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures that require special freezers.”
Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head for Janssen Research & Development at Johnson & Johnson, was quoted in NJ.com as saying, “We’ve committed to not-for-profit pricing during the pandemic period” if granted emergency use authorization or its equivalent anywhere in the world.
“We want to bring an affordable vaccine to the public, with the goal of providing 1 billion doses in 2021 and more after that,” Mammen said.
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