Federal officials said Wednesday that they would allocate three to four million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week if regulators grant emergency use authorization in the coming days.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a coronavirus task force briefing that officials would “waste no time getting this lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans.”
Zients said he had been in touch with the nation’s governors on plans to distribute the single-dose vaccine. It’s expected to be easier to administer because it does not require patients to return for a second appointment, and it has less restrictive storage requirements than the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures.
“If authorized, we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay,” he said. “If an EUA is issued, we anticipate allocating three or four million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.”
Zients said up to 20 million doses could be allocated to states and other jurisdictions by the end of March.
“We’re working with the company to accelerate the pace and time frame by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of June,” he added.
The news comes shortly after new data released by the US Food and Drug Administration showed that Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is more effective than previously thought against the worrisome new strains of the coronavirus.
Data released Wednesday indicated the vaccine was 68 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe disease caused by the dominant variant in Brazil and 64 percent effective against the dominant variant in South Africa.
An independent panel is expected to meet Friday to review the data and decide whether to recommend that the vaccine be authorized for emergency use, with a final FDA decision coming shortly after.