Weekly U.S. shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine are dropping to 1.5 million for the coming week after a one-time supply spike of 11 million the previous week.
The U.S. government allocated a total of 1.5 million doses of J&J’s single-shot vaccine for shipment this week, including 700,000 for states, tribes and territories and 800,000 for other destinations including pharmacies and community health centers, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. J&J declined to comment. The other channels will receive about 40% of the total doses shipped in the coming week.
A J&J contract manufacturer, Catalent Inc., received an emergency-use authorization late last month that cleared the way for it to make the shot at a plant in Bloomington, Indiana, unleashing millions of doses of pent-up supply. Following the regulatory green-light, the government last week allocated a stockpile of 11 million doses, including 4.9 million that went to states.
This week’s allocation — representing shipments that will go out in the coming week — dropped to 1.5 million J&J doses. The vaccine is being sent in proportionally greater numbers to pharmacies and community health centers than to states, tribes and territories.
J&J production will be limited until it receives authorization to produce shots at a beleaguered Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant in Baltimore, President Joe Biden’s Covid response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said at a press briefing on Friday. J&J is still working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to secure authorization at the site, he said.
“Johnson & Johnson expects a relatively low level of weekly dose delivery until the company secures FDA authorization,” Zients said. Once it’s authorized, J&J expects up to 8 million weekly doses by late April. J&J has also reiterated its commitment to provide all or nearly all of the first U.S. order for 100 million doses by the end of May, Zients said.
The White House has long signaled that J&J’s ramp-up will take time and the supply will vary from week to week, as was the case with the other vaccines authorized in the U.S. by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, and Moderna Inc., both of which require two doses.
Overall, U.S. shipments in the coming week will total 28 million doses, down from 33 million a week earlier, with Pfizer and Moderna still accounting for the vast majority of U.S. shipments. The U.S. is administering three million doses a day on average, a figure that has been climbing.
J&J has faced setbacks to producing its vaccine at scale. Emergent spoiled 15 million doses worth of drug substance last month after confusing production of the J&J shot and another from AstraZeneca Plc. The Baltimore-based facility, which was expected to be cleared last month by U.S. regulators to make and ship the product, has not yet received authorization.
J&J, with the help of the Biden administration, is taking control of the plant and AstraZeneca is searching for new manufacturing capacity.
The Washington State Department of Health in a release earlier this week said it was informed by the federal government that the production issues at the Emergent facility “should not have a major impact on vaccine allocations,” and that the pharmaceutical company remains on track to make 100 million doses by the end of May.
Vaccine allocations to states make up a shrinking portion of the total doses that are being distributed each week. Of the 28 million doses planned for next week, only 17 million are earmarked directly for states to order against, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show. About 11 million doses will be sent directly to pharmacies, community health centers and other federal programs.
The federal government doesn’t provide data on which vaccines are included in those 11 million doses, though J&J — which is easier to ship and store — makes up a proportionally larger share of those channels.
Moderna and Pfizer are on track to each deliver a total of 200 million doses by the end of May, Zients said Friday.